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Bullying Info and Facts

Defining Bullying Behavior

What is bullying? At first glance, many people might think this behavior is easy to define. Their first image of bullying might be of a physically intimidating boy beating up a smaller classmate. While that can still be considered bullying today, parents need to know that bullying behaviors can be much more complex and varied than the stereotype.

For example, harmful bullying can also occur quietly and covertly, through gossip or on the Internet, causing emotional damage.

As a starting point let’s consider a few other features that have been included in definitions of bullying. Although definitions vary from source to source, most agree that an act is defined as bullying when:

Many definitions also include:

A basic guideline for your child is this: Let the child know that if the behavior [of another student] hurts or harms them, either emotionally or physically, it’s bullying.

Defining “Harassment” Including Harassment based on Disability

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have stated that bullying may also be considered harassment when it is based on a student’s race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.

Harassing behaviors may include:

Students have protection under federal laws.

NEW! On August 20, 2013, ED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued guidance to educators and stakeholders on the matter of bullying of students with disabilities. This guidance provides an overview of school districts’ responsibilities to ensure that students with disabilities who are subject to bullying continue to receive free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, States and school districts are obligated to ensure that students with disabilities receive FAPE in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This guidance explains that any bullying of a student with disabilities which results in the student not receiving meaningful educational benefit is considered a denial of FAPE. Furthermore, this letter notes that certain changes to an educational program of a student with a disability (e.g., placement in a more restricted “protected” setting to avoid bullying behavior) may constitute a denial of FAPE in the LRE. Learn more

Know the Laws

Many states have laws that address bullying. The content of each law varies considerably. This interactive map from the STOP website contains information on each state’s bullying and harassment laws.

The Impact of Bullying

Bullying was once considered a simple, harmless rite of childhood experienced by many students. Today, research shows that bullying has significant short- and long-term effects that impact education, health and safety.

1. Education - Bullying can negatively impact a child’s access to education and lead to:

2. Health - Bullying can also lead to physical and mental health problems, including:

3. Safety – Bullying also impacts student sense of well-being, such as: