Bullying has become a significant issue with young people nationwide. It affects students at every level, from elementary to high school. To proactively address the issue of bullying the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has created a Bullying Prevention Policy. The policy clearly outlines, the definition of bullying and the steps required by schools to address it.
The definition for bullying in DCPS is:
“Bullying,” means any severe, pervasive, or persistent act or conduct, whether physical, electronic, or verbal that:
- May be based on a person's actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, intellectual ability, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, place of residence or business, or any other distinguishing characteristic, or on a youth’s association with a person, or group with any person, with one or more of the actual or perceived foregoing characteristics; and
- Shall be reasonably predicted to:
- Place a student in reasonable fear of physical harm to his or her person or property;
- Cause a substantial detrimental effect on the student’s physical or mental health;
- Substantially interfere with the student’s academic performance or attendance; or
- Substantially interfere with the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from school activities or services; or
- Materially and disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Bullying also occurs when a student or group of students organize a campaign against another student or when a student or group of students maliciously spread rumors about another student.
DCPS is committed to making every school a safe and welcome space for your child. Families are critical players in these efforts.
One of the most proactive measures families can take to shield their children from bullying is to talk to them early and openly about what it means to bully or to be bullied. Doing so not only ensures open lines of communication, but also reinforces the importance of speaking up about problems at school.
If a parent suspects their child may be experiencing bullying at school, they should ask about it explicitly. Make sure to tell your child that you are there to help and you believe what he or she has to say.
If you think your child is bullying others, it is important to discuss the behavior and make it clear that bullying is taken very seriously. At the same time, you may want to work with your child to understand some of the reasons behind the bullying.
If you witness cyber-bullying (use of the Internet and related technologies to bully) that includes threats of violence, child pornography or sexually explicit materials, and stalking or hate crimes, you should consider reporting the incident to law enforcement. Cyber-bullying also can create classroom disruptions and lead to in-person bullying.
For any questions or concerns please contact:
Dr. Justin McClain, Manager, Student Behavior at [email protected].