Defining Bullying & Harassment

Stop BullyingWe are here to help with your questions about bullying and harassment. If your student is experiencing behavior at school that you or they might consider to be bullying or harassment, we have outlined the definitions as a tool to help define your student’s situation.

Bullying occurs when someone repeatedly and purposefully says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending him or herself. Or it could be a single, severe or a willful act. 

Bullying means a willful act, which is written, verbal, or physical, or a course of conduct on the part of one or more persons that is not otherwise authorized by law and that exposes a student repeatedly and over time to one or more negative actions which is highly offensive to a reasonable person and (1) is intended to cause or actually causes the student to suffer harm or serious emotional distress; (2) exploits an imbalance in power between the person engaging in the act or conduct and the person who is the subject of the act or conduct; (3) poses a threat of immediate harm or actually inflicts harm to another person or to the property of another person; (4) places the person in reasonable fear of harm or serious emotional distress; or (5) creates an environment that is hostile to a student by interfering with the education of the student.

Stop BullyingSuch negative actions may include, without limitation:
  • Destroying the property of a student;
  • Excluding a student from participating in activities;
  • Extorting a student;
  • Gossiping maliciously;
  • Speaking disparagingly about the ethnicity of a student;
  • Staring and glaring;
  • Taunting;
  • Teasing;
  • Unreasonably banning the ability of a student to enter or exit an area;
  • Using gestures with the intent to cause and actually causing a student to suffer harm or serious emotional distress;
  • Using oral, written or electronic communication with the intent to cause and actually causing a student to suffer harm or serious emotional distress.
Stop BullyingCyber-bullying means bullying through the use of electronic communication. The term includes the use of electronic communications to transmit or distribute a sexual image of a minor.

Bullying is Not Teasing
It might be hard to tell the difference between playful teasing and bullying. Teasing usually involves two or more friends who act together in a way that seems fun to all the people involved. Often they tease each other equally, but it never involves physical or emotional abuse.

Harassment
Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal, written, graphic and/or physical conduct that is related to one’s gender, age, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity expression, national origin, religion, disability, English language proficiency, socioeconomic status or political beliefs.