As stated in our mission statement, the administration, faculty and staff at Mt. Vernon Junior High School are committed to providing a safe and caring environment in which every student can acquire knowledge, social skills, and emotional development to attain his/her maximum potential. Unfortunately, every school has to deal with issues related to bullying. We have implemented various programs to educate students about bullying and to address the serious issues associated with bullying. Although we encourage students to immediately report instances of bullying to their teachers, counselors or an administrator, students are sometimes reluctant to make a report for various reasons. In an effort to help students more easily report bullying without fear of retaliation or repercussions, an anonymous reporting tool is being provided.
Targets (victims of bullying) and bystanders (students that have witnessed bullying, but who are unsure of how to respond to help the victim) can use this reporting tool to report the situation.
Adolescents encounter many situations as they learn to get along with their peers and develop their interpersonal relationship skills. Some of these situations are not positive, but not all of these situations are bullying scenarios, so we need to define what bullying is and is not:Definition of Bullying
A person is being bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more persons. (Olweus, 1993)
Characteristics of Bullying:
Types of Bullying:
- The behavior is aggressive or malicious.
- The behavior is repeated and goes on over time.
- It occurs in an interpersonal relationship which is characterized by a certain imbalance of power. (The bully has more physical or social power than the victim.)
Several reasons that students do not report bullying:
- Physical - Hitting, kicking or any other physical aggression.
- Verbal - Teasing, name-calling, put-downs or other behavior that would deliberately hurt others' feelings or make them feel bad.
- Social, Emotional or Exclusion - Starting rumors, telling others not to be friends with someone or other actions that would cause someone to be without friends.
- Cyber-bullying - Using electronic devices such as, but not limited to, computers and cellphones to bully others (as defined above) through methods such as posting negative comments, rumors, statements, pictures, websites, text messages, instant messages and/or e-mails.
- Victims are often told: "Ignore the situation or act like it does not bother you and the bully will stop." In reality, this does not work. Adults must be informed so that they can intervene in a professional manner to help resolve the issues. Some victims are ashamed of being bullied. They might also think, incorrectly, that no one can or will help them. Victims may also be afraid of retaliation if they make a report.
- Bystanders are often afraid to report bullying because they do not want to become the next target of bullying.
- Most adolescents have been conditioned to consider reporting as "snitching." We have repeatedly tried to educate students that they always have the right to report problems if their goal is to get themsevles or a peer "OUT OF" a harmful situation. We do tell them that they may be "snitching" if their only goal is revenge or to get another student "IN" trouble. When children are younger, parents and teachers work hard to stop "tattling"; however, junior high school students need to understand when their behavior is "tattling" or "snitching" and when they have the right to make a report. Most adolescents understand the difference between having a goal of helping themselves or a friend "OUT OF" a bad situation vs. getting someone "IN" trouble as a form of revenge or attention seeking.
Bullying describes repeated negative interactions over time with an imbalance of power. When students interact daily, many other situations occur that need to be reported to school personnel, but these situations may not be a form of bullying. Individuals may have disagreements that become intense, but these situations may not fit the definition of bullying. We want to help all of our students resolve conflict; however, if the situation does not fit the definitions listed above, please encourage your child to speak with their teacher, a counselor, or an administrator. The situation may not be a form of bullying, but we want to resolve conflicts when they occur.
Thank you for helping us ensure a safe and caring environment for all students.
- Bullies come in all shapes and sizes.
- Both boys and girls bully. Boys tend to bully all students, but girls tend to bully only other females.
- Boys use physical and verbal aggresion; however, girls are more likely to use verbal aggression and social isolation.
- Some bullies are bright and some are not.
- Some bullies are attractive and some are not.
- Some bullies are popular and some are disliked by almost everybody.
- Bullies tend to be negative and to have a poor self-concept. This trait results in a tendancy to become aggressive at the first hint of a problem with others. These students always think that others are trying to "put down" or take advantage of him/her.
- Bullies talk back. They tend to annouce what they plan to do.
- Bullies use physical aggression but, generally, only outside of the classroom. In the classroom, the bully will use verbal threats about what he/she will do after the class period is over.
- Bullies degrade and humiliate others in public view.
- Bullies that are articulate may be verbally aggressive.
- Bullies tend to be loners; however, if they have friends, then they tend to be leaders of a group or gang.
- Bullies respond to most interaction negatively and physically.
- Bullies often have parents that promote fighting.
Negative Impact on the Learning Environment:
- A sense of entitlement - the right to control, dominate, subjugate and abuse another human being.
- An intolerance toward difference.
- A liberty to exclude - to bar, isolate and segregate a person deemed not worthy of respect or care.
The learning enviornment is impaired by bullying because students can not concentrate on the instruction being provided. Often, a climate of fear exists. Students see problems being dealt with by violence. Some students become emotional and afraid to go into the hall when the bell rings or even to come to school. Several Warning Signs - Students May:
- Show an abrupt lack of interest in school or refuses to go to school. Sometimes, students will fake illnesses to avoid school.
- Take an unusual route to school.
- Allow their grades to drop suddenly, possibly due to an inability to concentrate in classes.
- Withdraw from family and school activities.
- Be hungry after school.
- Steal money from home.
- Make a beeline to the bathroom when arriving home.
- Be sad, sullen, angry or scared after receiving a phone call, text, or e-mail.
- Does something out of character.
- Have torn or missing clothing.
- Use derogatory or demeaning language when talking about peers.
- Stop talking about peers and everyday activites.
- Have physical injuries not consistent with his/her explanation.
- Have stomachaches, headaches, panic attacks, and be unable to sleep, sleeps too much or is exhausted.
- Play alone or prefers to hang out with adults.
Research shows that over 60% of bystanders would like to stand up to bullies and help protect victims. We try to foster a climate that encourages students to report bullying that they witness. We also try to ensure that adults are always visible in the hallways to help provide adaquate supervision to reduce the incidents of bullying.
We also encourage students to stand up to bullies and show that MVJHS students do not condone or tolerate bullying behavior.
Through our Advisor/Advisee Program in Homebase, we explain and then have student sign a safe-schools pledge. By signing this pledge, students agree to report unsafe situations.