Is Bullying a Problem? Bill Number: House Bill 669 Bill Title: School Safety

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  • Dr. Nancy Blackwelder
  • PO Box 66554
  • St. Pete Beach, FL 33736
  • 727-251-0181

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Is Bullying a Problem?

Bill Number: House Bill 669 Bill Title: School Safety

  • Executive Summary:
  • The bill creates s. 1006.147, F.S., prohibiting bullying and harassment, also cited as the “Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act,” and expresses legislative intent that school districts take every reasonable precaution to protect students and school employees from the irreparable physiological, physical, emotional, mental, and social harm of bullying and harassment. It further expresses the intent of the Legislature that nothing in the bill be construed to abridge the rights that are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • The bill defines “bullying” and “harassment” and incorporates the definitions relating to computer-related crimes found in s. 815.03, F.S., and stalking found in s. 784.048, F.S., into this bill.
  • The bill specifies certain acts that are included in “bullying” and “harassment” and requires school districts to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment during any education program or activity conducted by a public K-12 educational institution, at a school-related or school-sponsored program or activity, on a school bus, or through the use of data or computer software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, or computer network within the scope of the district school system.
  • The bill requires specific stakeholders representing the school community, including local law enforcement, to be involved in adopting the policy and requires the policy to be implemented throughout the school year and integrated with a school’s curriculum, discipline policies, and other violence prevention efforts.
  • The bill requires the Department of Education to develop a model policy on bullying and harassment, and provide to school districts, by October 1, 2008. The bill requires school districts to adopt a district policy in substantial conformity with the Department of Education’s model policy by December 1, 2008. Districts may establish separate discrimination policies that include categories of students.
  • The bill requires the Department to approve district policies and makes the distribution of 2009-10 Safe Schools funds provided in the General Appropriations Act contingent upon the Department’s approval of district policy.
  • The bill further makes the distribution of Safe Schools funds contingent upon district compliance with all reporting procedures beginning in fiscal year 2010-11 and thereafter.
  • • The bill requires the Commissioner of Education to report on the implementation of the bill, including pertinent data such as incidences of bullying and harassment, to the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on or before January 1 of each year.
  • • The bill provides immunity for damages arising out of the reporting or any failure to remedy a reported incident. It further prohibits the physical location or time of access of a computer-related incident to be raised as a defense in any disciplinary action.
  • • The bill exempts any person who uses data or computer software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, or computer network when acting within the scope of his or her lawful employment or investigating a violation in accordance with district policy.
  • • The bill declares the provisions of this act severable in the instance that any provision of this act or the application to any person or circumstance is held invalid.

Is Bullying a Problem?

  • Can be found in every school in the country
  • Pupils suffer ongoing torment & harassment
  • Causes life long damage to victims
  • Creates a hostile environment & interferes with learning

Five Common Features

  • Deliberate, hurtful behavior
  • Repeated over a period of time
  • Difficult for victims to defend themselves
  • Difficult for bullies to learn new social behaviors
  • Exercises power inappropriately over the victim

Two Main Types of Bullying

  • Direct
    • Physical; hitting, kicking, taking belongings
    • Verbal; name-calling, insulting, racist remarks
  • Indirect/emotional
    • Spreading nasty stories, social isolation, intentional exclusion from groups, making faces, obscene gestures, manipulating friendship relationships

Characteristics of Bullies

  • Confident Bullies
    • Physically strong
    • Enjoy aggressive behavior
    • Good at talking themselves out of situations
    • Needs to dominate
    • Average popularity
  • Anxious Bullies
    • Weak academically
    • Poor concentration
    • Less popular & less secure
  • Bully / Victims

Characteristics of Bullies

  • The Intimidators - May intimidate adults as well as children.
  • The Smooth Talkers - May appear as a “smooth talker” when confronted about their behavior.
  • The Blamer - Often blames the victim if a confrontation occurs, as a way to deflect attention off themselves.

Problems Common to Bullies

  • Blaming others for the problems they cause
  • Undetected clinical depression
  • Impulsivity
  • Feeling they do not belong
  • Sense of inadequacy
  • Feeling unloved
  • Seeing hostile intent where there is none
  • Lack empathy, lack of self-awareness
  • Feeling superior
  • Loss of popularity
  • Negative attitude toward school work that leads to academic underachievement
  • Greater likelihood of dropping out of school
  • Involvement with legal system due to vandalism, fighting, theft, drunkenness and truancy

Consequences of Being a Bully

  • Behavior may extend into adult life
  • Causes problems in later work and personal relationships (verbal, emotional & physical abuse)
  • Increased risk for criminal behavior (6 times more likely to be convicted of crimes by age 24 & 5 times more likely to end up with serious criminal records by age 30)
  • Increased risk for substance abuse

Characteristics of Victims

  • Passive/Withdrawn Victim (Most prevalent type)
  • Often have poor social skills
  • Lack the confidence to seek help
  • Don’t have the support of the teacher or classmates who find them unappealing
  • Blame themselves and believe it is their own fault
  • Are desperate to ‘fit in’
  • Highly unlikely they will seek help
  • Anxious and insecure
  • Cautious, sensitive, and quiet
  • Cries or withdraws when attacked
  • Holds negative views of him/herself & the situation
  • Feels stupid, ashamed, unattractive
  • Often isolated at school
  • Tends to be physically weaker than other children

Characteristics of Victims

  • Provocative Victim
  • Anxious and aggressive behavior combined
  • Seen by others as a ‘pest’ and a nuisance and as ‘bringing it on themselves’
  • Are quick-tempered and prone to fight back
  • Get others charged up
  • May be clumsy, immature, restless
  • Provoke bullying; they “egg on” kids who bully
  • Sometimes look as if they are bullies themselves, but they always lose in the end

Consequences of Being a Victim

  • Devastating feelings of loneliness & abandonment that can affect him/her long after he/she leaves school
  • Anxiety & stress interfere with every aspect of his/her life
  • Can lead to depression and suicide

What could happen if we ignore it?

  • But when bullying is not dealt with, the person (victim) gets a deep anger inside that can come out later in revenge. The person is saying, ‘I will put you down like you put me down.’”
  • Gabe Guerrieri, executive director of Genesis Counseling Center, a Collingswood facility that helps teens. Courier-Post Tuesday, July 8, 2003

20 Signs of Teen Depression

  • Sudden changes in personality, eating habits, sleeping habits, behavior
  • Lack of interest in or withdrawal from planned activities
  • Persistent boredom
  • “Blue” for a week or longer
  • Withdrawal from family and friends; self-imposed isolation
  • Inability to have fun
  • Running away from home
  • Feelings of meaningless in life

20 Signs of Teen Depression

  • Concealed or direct suicide threats
  • Loss of interest in personal grooming
  • An illness that has no apparent physical cause
  • Preoccupation with death and death-related themes
  • Giving away prized possessions to family and friends
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A previous suicide attempt
  • Talking about suicide
  • From Perfectionism: What’s Bad About Feeling Good, pages 119 and 120
  • By Miriam Adderholdt, Ph.D. and Jan Goldberg

Here’s the Key

  • 80% of students are not actively involved in bullying. They know it’s wrong, but unless they are asked for help, or are made to feel they have a responsibility to act, they will silently collude with the abuse.

Why Bystanders Don’t Get Involved

  • Fear of retaliation
  • Are not sure of what to do
  • Afraid they will make things worse
  • Worry about losing social status
  • Don’t believe adults will really help
  • Some believe bullying is entertaining

What Should We Tell Students to do to Help a Victim of Bullying

  • Refuse to join in if the bully tries to get you to taunt and torment someone.
  • Get a teacher, parent, or other responsible adult to come help.
  • Try to get the child that is being bullied to tell his or her parents or a trusted teacher.
  • Tell a trusted adult yourself if the victim is unwilling to report the bullying.
  • Speak up when it is safe to do so.
  • Refuse to be an audience for a bully!!

Advice to Students

  • When you are being bullied:
    • Be firm and clear.
    • Respond evenly and firmly or say nothing and walk away. Get away from the situation.
    • Tell an adult.
  • After you have been bullied:
    • Tell a teacher or another adult.
    • Tell your family.
    • If you are scared to tell a teacher, have a friend go with you.
    • Keep on speaking up till someone listens.
    • Don’t blame yourself for what has happened.

Advice to Students

  • When you are talking about bullying with an adult, be clear about:
    • What has happened to you
    • How often it has happened
    • Who was involved
    • Who saw what was happening
    • Where it happened
    • What you have done about it already

How to Avoid Bullying Situations

  • Sit near the bus driver on the school bus.
  • Take a different route to and from home.
  • Leave a little earlier or later to avoid a confrontation with a bully.
  • Do not bring expensive items or lots of money to school.
  • Avoid unsupervised areas of the school and situations where you are isolated. from teachers and classmates.

How to Avoid Bullying Situations

  • Take different routes through the hallways or walk with a teacher to your classes.
  • Make sure you are not alone in the locker room or bathroom.
  • Develop friendships with other children.
  • Develop interests in social and physical activities.
  • Act confident.


  • Bullying and harassment by use of electronic devices through means of e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, blogs, mobile phones, pagers, and websites.
  • It is willful and involves recurring or repeated harm inflicted through the medium of electronic text.
  • It intends to cause emotional distress and has no legitimate purpose to the choice of communications.
  • It may also include threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (i.e. hate speech).

Comparison to Traditional Bullying

  • Electronic bullies can remain “virtually” anonymous.
  • Cyberbullies might be emboldened because it takes less energy and courage to express hurtful comments using a keypad or board than with one’s voice.
  • Cyberbullies don’t have to be larger, older or stronger than their victims.

Comparison to Traditional Bullying

  • Electronic forums lack supervision.
  • The inseparability of a cellular phone from its owner makes that person a perpetual target for victimization, because users often need to keep it turned on for legitimate uses.

Research on Cyberbullying

  • Hinduja & Patchin 2005-1500 internet-using adolescents
  • 1/3 reported being victimized online
  • 16% admitted to cyberbullying others
  • 40% were disrespected
  • 18% were called names
  • 12% were physically threatened
  • 5% were scared for their safety
  • Less than 15% of victims told an adult

Research on Cyberbullying

  • National Children’s Home Charity & Tesco Mobile 2005- 770 youth btwn. 11 & 19
  • 20% were cyberbullied
  • 73% knew the bully
  • 10% felt uncomfortable with others taking pictures of them on a cellular phone
  • 24% told a parent
  • 14% told a teacher
  • 41% told a friend
  • 28% told no one

Research on Cyberbullying

  • Online bullying victimization is related to offline problem behaviors, such as,
    • Stress and strain
    • Running away from home
    • Skipping school
    • Using alcohol or marijuana

If kids are being victimized by a cyberbully, parents have options

  • Ignore the cyberbully and block further online communications.
  • Save evidence and try to identify the bully.
  • Contact parents of the cyberbully and present them with evidence. Request the behavior stop.
  • Inform school officials.
  • Contact an attorney or file a claim in small-claims court. The parents of the bully can be sued for defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Contact police if there are threats of violence, extortion, hate crimes or sexual exploitation.

When is it our responsibility?

  • Schools are largely insulated from lawsuits unless they had been told of a problem and did nothing, according to attorneys, security experts and recent court judgments. (the “knowledge and notice” rule.)

When is it our responsibility?

  • If, while a child is being cyberbullied, he/she is threatened to be “beat up” or assaulted while they are in school, the schools must take responsibility for activities that follow a child from their home to their school

What Can School Officials Do To Prevent Bullying?

  • Maintain a warm, positive interest and involvement on the part of adults.
  • Establish and enforce firm limits on unacceptable behavior.
  • Consistently apply sanctions when norms against bullying are violated.
  • Send a clear message that bullying will not be tolerated. Adults need to be authority figures and act responsibly when confronted with issues of bullying. (Watch, monitor, and when necessary intervene.)

Dealing With a Bullying Incident

  • Express relief that the bullying is out in the open
  • Support the victim
  • Identify what has happened
  • Stop the immediate abuse
  • Help the bully change his/her behavior
  • Make the peer group feel responsible in helping the victim
  • Talk separately to the bully and victim
  • Document the incident

How to Document Suspected Harassment

  • Name, age, race, national origin, sex, and disability status, as relevant, of the victims and harassers
  • Names of witnesses
  • A description of the incident
  • Information on the severity of the incident
  • When and where the incident occurred
  • The relationship of the incident to other incidents of harassment
  • The names of personnel conducting the investigation
  • Findings
  • Corrective actions

What to Say When Confronting a Bullying Incident

  • Hey, what’s going on here?
  • Should I be concerned about what I see happening here?
  • Do you students need some assistance?
  • Looks like some ugly things are happening to _______ (person’s name).
  • Hey, I just heard some things that are really inappropriate.
  • You know the rules on rough play here.

What to Say When Confronting a Bullying Incident

  • Looks like _____ (person’s name) is not having fun.
  • Are you upset? You look angry.
  • Come here please, _____ (student’s name). I need to talk with you a minute.
  • Be careful people’s feelings are not being hurt here.
  • Hey, this looks (sounds) like bullying or (harassment) to me. You know our school rules.

A Good Educator Will:

  • Notice when a pupil is isolated and sad
  • Look for the reasons
  • Not see it as just play-fighting, name-calling, a bit of fun or part of growing up
  • Work with the victim to stop the offending behavior
  • Not tell the victim to ignore it, to sort it out themselves
  • Model appropriate behavior themselves

Early Warning Signs

  • If a young person displays more than 4 of the following behaviors, they may need help:
  • Has a history of tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts.
  • Characteristically resorts to name-calling, cursing or abusive language.
  • Displays cruelty to animals.

Early Warning Signs

  • Is preoccupied with weapons, explosives or other incendiary devices.
  • Has a background of serious disciplinary problems at school and in the community.
  • Has a background of drug, alcohol or other substance abuse or dependency.
  • Is on the fringe of his/her peer group with few or no close friends.

Early Warning Signs

  • Has previously been truant, suspended or expelled from school.
  • Has little or no supervision and support from parents or a caring adult.
  • Has witnessed or been a victim of abuse or neglect in the home.
  • Has been bullied and/or bullies or intimidates peers or younger children.

Early Warning Signs

  • Tends to blame others for difficulties and problems he/she causes his/herself.
  • Consistently prefers TV show, movies or music expressing violent themes and acts.
  • Prefers reading materials dealing with violent themes, rituals and abuse.
  • Reflects anger, frustration and the dark side of life in school essays or writing projects.
  • Has a change in behavior.

Early Warning Signs

  • Is involved with a gang or an antisocial group on the fringe of peer acceptance.
  • Is often depressed and/or has significant mood swings.
  • Has threatened or attempted suicide.
  • Has previously brought a weapon to school.
  • Habitually makes violent threats when angry.
  • Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fight For Your Rights

  • Video

Break the Code of Silence

  • Tattling
  • Unimportant
  • Harmless
  • Can handle by self
  • Purpose is to get someone in trouble
  • Behavior is accidental
  • Telling
  • Important
  • Harmful
  • Need help from an adult
  • Purpose is to keep people safe
  • Behavior is purposeful
  • The Starfish
  • As the old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man ahead of him, picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally, catching up with the youth, he asked him why he was doing this. The young man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left until the morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish,” countered the old man. “How can your effort make any difference?” The young man looked at the starfish in his hand, and threw it to safety in the waves and said, “It makes a difference to this one.”


  • In your group, discuss an incident where bullying has been brought to your attention and as a group determine the best way to handle the situation.


  • Web Wise Kids
  • (Equipping Children to Make Wise Choices Online)
  • P.O. Box 27203
  • Santa Anna, CA 92799
  • (800) Web-Wise
  • i-SAFE America, Inc.
  • 2604 B El Camino Real #387
  • Carlsbad, CA 92008
  • (858)442-6601
  • All i-safe curriculum materials (K-12) and professional development training are provided at NO CHARGE. This program is designed for schools and law enforcement agencies.

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