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What Is My Duty To Prevent Bullying?

The classroom teacher can be a vital tool in ending the plague of school bullying.

Bullying is about power.

One student has it, and another does not. The media has been filled with recent stories of students committing suicide because of intense pressure from their tormentors. As educators, we have a clear duty to help a student who is being bullied. Generally, teachers are protected from lawsuits related to job performance. That is true so long as we operate within the law. However, the law and board policy mandate that teachers prevent and report bullying behaviors.

How do I know that a student is being bullied?

One of the best ways is to ask the student. Create a safe environment in which the child can talk. Asking questions while other students are present or within earshot is likely to result in an answer that is not accurate.

If the student says he or she is not being bullied, is my duty fulfilled?

Not at all. Victims often feel ashamed and powerless and fear retaliation should they “rat out” the bully. It is unrealistic to expect kids to make rational, self-protective decisions while under emotional stress. You have the power of observation. You have the responsibility to intervene, even if you only have suspicions.

If I suspect bullying, what should I do?

Immediately report, in writing, your suspicions, your observations, your conversations, and your interventions to your campus administrator and campus counselor.  As with other such situations, you must also report any suspicions of physical or emotional abuse of a child by any person to Child Protective Services within 48 hours. Abuse includes, but is not limited to, mental or emotional injury to a child; physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child; genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury; or sexual conduct that is harmful to the child’s welfare.  If you know or have access to the information, the report must include the name and address of the child, the name and address of the person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child, and any other pertinent information concerning the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect.

What is Deliberate Indifference?

Educators are charged with the task of ensuring the health and safety of the students they teach.  Because of the nature of the student-teacher relationship, teachers (and other certified school professionals) have an affirmative duty under the law to report any suspected abuse or neglect of a child.  For most teachers, reporting does not pose a problem.  However, there are instances when a teacher suspects child abuse or neglect, but chooses not to file the mandatory report.  The law recognizes this as “deliberate indifference.” Deliberate indifference occurs when a professional suspects or knows of a risk to a student’s health and safety, and then chooses to disregard the risk for a variety of reasons.   Remember, if you fail to report child abuse or neglect for any reason, you could be charged with a crime.  Failure to report child abuse or neglect is classified as a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $2000.00.For more information, please see your own district’s policy FFG (legal). 

School Bullying Statistics

School bullying statistics in the United States show that about one in four kids in the U.S. are bullied on a regular basis. Between cyber bullying and bullying at school, the school bullying statistics illustrate a huge problem with bullying and the American school system.

In a recent SAFE survey, teens in grades 6 through 10 are the most likely to be involved in activities related to bullying. About thirty% of students in the United States are involved in bullying on a regular basis either as a victim, bully, or both. These school bullying statistics show what a problem bullying of all kinds in the United States has become. The recent school bullying statistics show that cyber bullying is becoming increasingly prevalent on school property, as well as involving students even when they are not at school. Because of this growing number of kids affected by bullying, more and more schools throughout the country are cracking down on the measures taken to stop bullying.

One of the most unfortunate parts of these school bullying statistics is that in about 85% of bullying cases, no intervention or effort is made by a teacher or administration member of the school to stop the bullying from taking place. However, now that more and more schools are taking an active approach to cut down on the number of students that live in fear of being bullied, the numbers will go down. 

School Bullying Statistics:Verbal bullying is the most common type of bullying, with about 77% of all students being bullied verbally in some way or another, including mental bullying or even verbal abuse. These types of bullying can also include spreading rumors, yelling obscenities or other derogatory terms based on an individual’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Out of the 77% of those bullied, 14% have a severe or bad reaction to the abuse, according to recent school bullying statistics. These numbers make up the students that experience poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety about going to school and even suicidal thoughts (bullycide) as a result of being bullied by their peers. Also as part of this study, about one in five students admitted they are responsible for bullying their peers. Almost half of all students fear harassment or bullying in the bathroom at school, according to these school bullying statistics. As a result of this fear and anxiety of being bullied, many students will make excuses or find ways around going to school. School bullying statistics also reveal that teens ages 12-17 believe they have seen violence increase at their schools. In fact, these numbers also show that most violent altercations between students are more likely to occur on school grounds than on the way to school for many teens.

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