Combating bullying in our schools

What is BKW doing to stop bullying?

BKW Schools takes bullying seriously.

State and federal laws prohibit bullying and require schools to take steps to stop and prevent it. New York’s Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) specifically addresses all bullying that may interfere with a child’s right to learn in a physically and emotionally safe environment.

BKW teachers and support personnel are trained to identify bullying and to respond quickly to any reports of bullying. Part of that response is to fully investigate every report and to take necessary steps to stop the action(s), to provide the victim with needed supports, and to appropriately address the perpetrator(s).

What is bullying?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Education define bullying as “any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths, who are not siblings or current dating partners, involving an observed or perceived power imbalance. These behaviors are repeated multiple times or are highly likely to be repeated.

Bullying is deliberate and often pre-planned.

Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth. That harm may be:

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Social
  • Educational

Is bullying a physical act?

No, bullying can be:

  • Verbal (most common)
  • Physical – pushing, striking, etc.
  • Cyber – texts, blogs, social media 
  • Relational – openly excluding from social/friend groups

What is the difference between student conflicts and bullying?

Not all disagreements between students are bullying incidents. Students, like adults, can disagree without it becoming bullying. 

Student conflicts:

  • Are disagreements between students or groups of students,
  • Happen daily wherever students gather (playground, bus, hallways, cafeteria, etc.),
  • Can be physical or verbal,
  • Demonstrate no imbalance of power (parties are the same age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc.),
  • Are not always deliberate, and
  • Are not acceptable, but are developmentally or age appropriate.

Can even minor student conflicts become bullying?

Yes. Every student-to-student interaction has the potential of escalating into bullying or worse, as outlined by this continuum of negative behavior:

Teasing-> Conflicts-> Potential Bullying-> Bullying-> Criminal Offenses

For this reason, BKW staff works hard to teach healthy behaviors and conflict resolution skills to all students, and to stop negative behavior—before something small becomes serious.

Who plays a part in bullying?

There are often more people involved than the bully and the victim.  BKW Schools teaches students to recognize bullying and do their part to stop it. That may mean reporting the incident or even becoming the “defender.”

  • Bully—Plans and/or starts the process and actively participates
  • Henchman—Takes an active role in bullying but does not start or plan the act
  • Active Supporter—Cheers on the bully and henchman and enjoys being in “the group”
  • Passive Supporter—Enjoys watching the bullying but does not show support or agreement with act
  • Disengaged Onlooker— Sees the bullying, but looks the other way  “I am not getting involved; it is not my problem.”
  • Potential Witness—Does not agree with the bullying, but does not know what to do to make it stop
  • Defender— Actively stands up to bully, speaks out against bullying
  • Target—The one who is bullied

How should a student respond to a bullying incident?

Any student who is a victim of bullying or who witnesses bullying should report it immediately to a school employee. All teachers, administrators and support staff are trained to act promptly and in accordance with the law and school policy.

How should an adult respond to bullying?

In a confidential survey of more than 11,000 students in 12 states, the Youth Voice Research Project learned the following (as reported by students who identified themselves as victims of bullying):

Adult responses that helped victims

  • Carefully listened to me
  • Checked on me afterwards to see if the behavior stopped
  • Helped me develop a plan
  • Made me feel safe
  • Made me feel like someone cared

Adult responses that did not help victims

  • Told me to stop tattling
  • Told me to solve the problem myself
  • Told me if I acted differently this wouldn’t be happening
  • Ignored what was going on