Bullying and Inclusion
What Is Bullying?
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
- An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Types of Bullying
There are four types of bullying:
Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
- Inappropriate sexual comments
- Threatening to cause harm
Social bullying, or relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
- Leaving someone out on purpose
- Telling other children not to be friends with someone
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Embarrassing someone in public
Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
- Taking or breaking someone’s things
- Making mean or rude hand gestures
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Cyberbullying includes:
- Mean text messages or emails
- Rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites
- Embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.
The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.
The 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, 28% of students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.
The 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 6% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying.
The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 16% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year.
What Is Inclusion?
Inclusion is recognizing our universal "oneness" and interdependence. Inclusion is recognizing that we are "one" even though we are not the "same". The act of inclusion means fighting against exclusion and all of the social diseases exclusion gives birth to - i.e. racism, sexism, handicapism, etc. Fighting for inclusion also involves assuring that all support systems are available to those who need such support. Providing and maintaining support systems is a civic responsibility, not a favor. We were all born "in". Society will immediately improve at the point we honor this truth!!
Service/ Avodah (Avodah in Hebrew)
- Create a School Safety Committee
- Run for leadership positions in your school to promote respect and inclusion
- Develop, communicate and enforce bullying policies and rules
- Join the Cartoon Network and their initiatives to speak up! Make your own Stop Bullying Comic and much more at http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/promos/stopbullying/
- Build partnerships with community members. Follow the steps in this toolkit!
- Use this online prevention portal to get more resources and information!
Philanthropy/ Tzedakah (Tzedakah in Hebrew)
- The National Center for Bullying Prevention is helping to promote awareness and teach effective ways to respond to bullying.
- STOMP Out Bullying is focused on reducing bullying and cyberbullying.
- Peace First is a national nonprofit that teaches young people the critical skills of conflict resolution, cooperation, and civic engagement. With 20 years of expertise in anti-bullying and empathy education, Peace First creates safer schools and communities by developing students' abilities to demonstrate compassion, stand up for others and see themselves as leaders.
Advocacy/ Tzedek (Tzedek in Hebrew)
Although no federal law directly addresses bullying, in some cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment when it is based on race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability, or religion. This kind of bullying is covered under federal civil rights laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). When bullying and harassment overlap, federally-funded schools (including colleges and universities) are obligated by these laws to address conduct that is:
- Severe, pervasive or persistent
- Creates a hostile environment at school. That is, it is sufficiently serious that it interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by a school
- Based on a student’s race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion
State and local lawmakers have taken action to prevent bullying and protect children. Through laws (in their state education codes and elsewhere) and model policies (that provide guidance to districts and schools), each state addresses bullying differently. Find out how your state refers to bullying in its laws and what they require on part of schools and districts.
Bullying, cyberbullying, and related behaviors may be addressed in a single law or may be addressed in multiple laws. In some cases, bullying appears in the criminal code of a state that may apply to juveniles.
In December 2010, the U.S. Department of Education reviewed state laws and identified 11 key components common among many of those laws. These include defining bullying, creating a purpose statement, outlining the scope of the issue, specifying prohibited conduct, and outlining the policy, implementation and enforcement procedures of bullying incidents that occur. The components also cover training, communication plans and reporting practices as well.
Anyone can report harassing conduct to a school. When a school receives a complaint they must take certain steps to investigate and resolve the situation.
- Immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what happened.
- Inquiry must be prompt, thorough, and impartial.
- Interview targeted students, offending students, and witnesses, and maintain written documentation of investigation
- Communicate with targeted students regarding steps taken to end harassment
- Check in with targeted students to ensure that harassment has ceased
When an investigation reveals that harassment has occurred, a school should take steps to:
- End the harassment,
- Eliminate any hostile environment,
- Prevent harassment from recurring, and
- Prevent retaliation against the targeted student(s) or complainant(s).
School staff can help prevent bullying by establishing and enforcing school rules and policies that clearly describe how students are expected to treat each other. Consequences for violations of the rules should be clearly defined as well.
Types of Rules and Policies
There are several types of policies and rules that work to prevent bullying. Each serves a different purpose. You can help get these kinds of rules and policies implemented at your school! For example:
- A school mission statement establishes the vision for the school. Everyone should know how they personally help the school achieve this shared goal.
Sample Mission Statement
[Name of School] is committed to each student’s success in learning within a caring, responsive, and safe environment that is free of discrimination, violence, and bullying. Our school works to ensure that all students have the opportunity and support to develop to their fullest potential and share a personal and meaningful bond with people in the school community.
- A code of conduct describes the positive behaviors expected of the school community. The code of conduct applies to all, sets standards for behavior, and covers a focused set of expected positive behaviors. State laws sometimes specify what must be included in a school’s code of conduct.
- A student bill of rights includes positive things students can expect at school. Keep it short and easy to remember, so it is useful in day-to-day school life.
Sample Student Bill of Rights
Each student at [school] has a right to:
Learn in a safe and friendly place
Be treated with respect
Receive the help and support of caring adults
Establish a Reporting System
Schools can establish clear procedures for reporting rule violations so that reasonable consequences can be given to students when rules are broken. Reporting systems help track individual incidents and responses as well as trends over time. You can suggest and help to create these system at your school!
Some tips for establishing a reporting system:
- Make it easy. People are more likely to report when it’s easy to do.
- Maintain reports in a way that shows emerging problems and patterns over time.
- Keep reports confidential and private. School staff and students should be encouraged to report violations without fear of retaliation.
- The Jewish value of Hochai’ach Tochee’ach-- you shall rebuke, is the obligation to be a social critic when you see that society or individuals are making terrible mistakes. Such criticism is viewed as an expression of care for others (Leviticus 19:17; Genesis Rabbah 54).
- The Jewish value of Halbanat Panim -- avoidance of public humiliation, is the loss of personal dignity at the hands of others is considered one of the gravest wrongs in Judaism, akin to murder (T.B. Moed Katan 9b; T.B. Baba Mezia 58bff.; Tractate Kallah, Minor Tractates of the Talmud).
- The Jewish value of Ona’at D’varim ‐- verbal humiliation, is a series of laws aimed at preventing people from verbally abusing one another (Leviticus 25:14; Leviticus 25:20; T.B. Baba Metzia 58b).
- The Jewish value of Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof ‐- justice, justice, you must pursue, is the obligation to actively promote justice (Leviticus 19.36; Deuteronomy 16.20; Zechariah 8.16‐17; M. Avot 1.18).
- The Jewish value of Tzelem Elohim ‐- image of God, is the foundational principle that every human being is created in the image of God and must be treated accordingly (Genesis 1:27; Genesis Rabbah 24).
- The Jewish value of Pikuach Nefesh ‐- the saving of life, is the highest Jewish obligation that overrides almost every other law (Yoma 85b; Sanhedrin 4:5; Baba Mezia 62b).
- The Jewish value of Bakesh Shalom V’Rodfehu ‐- seek peace and pursue it, is the obligation to actively reduce conflicts. A series of laws and ethical teachings advocating peace, conflict resolution methodologies, and prohibiting violence against the innocent (Psalms 34:15; Chapter on Peace, Minor Tractates of the Talmud).
- The Jewish values of Lashon HaRah and Rechilut are about the permanence of spoken words‐- Rechilut prohibits statements which are not true, whereas Lashon HaRah expands this prohibition to include even factually truthful speech if it might possibly malign an individual or ruin a reputation. The gravity of the offence comes from the fact that it is nearly impossible to retract these types of statements (T.B. Erchin 15b; Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of De’ot, chapter 7).
- The Jewish value of Ahavat Ger love of the stranger in your midst, is a series of laws insisting on compassionate behavior towards strangers, empathy with foreigners, and their inclusion in every aspect of society (Exodus 22:20,;23:9; Deuteronomy 16:14; Tractate on Strangers, Minor Tractates of Talmud).
- The Jewish value of Adam Yachid - a single human being, is the rabbinic concept that one human being was created originally so that no one can say, my father was greater than your father. In other words, every human being is unique and inherently precious (Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5).