- Evanston/Skokie School District 65
- Bullying Prevention
District 65 adopted the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) to address past bullying incidents and to prevent future incidents from occurring. In this program, we were able to define bullying and to speak on different ways to address bullying behaviors. Bullying must have all three characteristics to be considered bullying according to the OBPP:
- An intentional negative act,
- repeated behavior,
- and a power imbalance.
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is the most researched and best-known bullying prevention program available today. With over thirty-five years of research and successful implementation all over the world, OBPP is a whole-school program that has been proven to prevent or reduce bullying throughout a school setting. OBPP is used at school, classroom, and individual levels and includes methods to reach out to parents and the community for involvement and support. School administrators, teachers, and other staff are primarily responsible for introducing and implementing the program. These efforts are designed to improve peer relations and make the school a safer and more positive place for students to learn and develop.
Bullying Is an Intentional, Negative Act
Bullying is a negative act when someone intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person. The student or students who bully mean to harm another student in some way. This could be through physical actions, through words, or indirectly, for example, by intentionally excluding the student from a group or activity. It is important to realize that a lot of bullying occurs without any apparent provocation on the part of the bullied student. Rather, students who bully usually take the initiative (use proactive aggression) and seek out students they perceive as weaker. Although students who bully others may vary in their awareness of how the targeted student perceives their actions, most or all of them likely realize that their behavior is at least somewhat painful or unpleasant.
Bullying Is Usually Repeated Behavior
Although bullying is defined as usually being carried out “repeatedly and over time,” it would be wrong to exclude from the definition serious hurtful behavior that happens only once. The intent in focusing on repeated acts is to exclude non-serious actions that are directed at a student one time. Students who are bullied may also be embarrassed to tell an adult, or they may feel they won’t get the help they need if they do report the bullying. While it is essential to understand that bullying happens repeatedly over time, it is not wise (and may even be dangerous) to wait for a pattern to clearly emerge before intervening. Members of our community are asked to respond anytime they observe or become aware of bullying or other related negative behaviors in our school buildings and within our community.
Bullying Involves a Power Imbalance
In a bullying situation or relationship, the student who is exposed to negative actions has difficulty defending themselves and is somewhat helpless against the student or students who are enacting the bullying. The actual or perceived imbalance in power or strength may come about in several different ways. The student who is being bullied may actually be physically weaker or may simply perceive themselves as physically or emotionally weaker than the students who are bullying. Or there may be a difference in numbers, with several students ganging up on a single student. A somewhat different kind of imbalance may happen when the “source” of the negative actions is difficult to identify or confront, as in social exclusion from the group, hurtful gossip that happens behind the student’s back, or when a student is being sent anonymous mean notes.
- What are the different forms of bullying?
There are several different forms of bullying. These can include:
- being verbally bullied
- being socially excluded or isolated
- being physically bullied
- being bullied through lies and false rumors
- having money or other things taken or damaged
- being threatened or forced to do things
- racial bullying
- sexual bullying
- cyber-bullying (via cell phone or the Internet)
- What are some signs that indicate that my student is being bullied?
You can look for these warning signs if you think your child is being bullied:
- has lost or damaged clothes or other belongings
- has cuts, bruises, scratches or other unexplained injuries
- has few, if any, friends to spend time with
- seems afraid, anxious, has low self-esteem
- seems afraid to go to the activity, walking to and from the activity, or riding the bus
- takes a different route to or from the activity or the bus stop
- doesn’t want to share rides with other kids in the program
- has lost interest in the activity, doesn’t want to go, or won’t participate even though they were excited about it at the beginning
- worries about transportation to and from the program, if other kids are involved
- seems sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
- often has headaches, stomachaches, or isn’t hungry
- has trouble sleeping or has bad dreams
- What can I do if I believe my student is being bullied?
Share your concerns with your child’s school leader or teacher. Try to find out more about what’s happening. If your child is being bullied, he or she may be embarrassed or afraid to tell you. Try asking your child questions such as these:
- Who do you spend time with when you’re at school?
- Do you have any special friends at school? Who are they?
- Are there any students you really don’t like being with? Who are they? Why?
- Do you ever feel left out of things? How?
- Is anybody teasing you or picking on you? What’s been happening?
- Has this happened at school or in any other places?
- What can I do to help my student feel safe and end their experience of being bullied?
If you know or suspect that your child is being bullied, talk to their school administrator or leader:
- Explain all of the facts you know.
- Tell the leader you want to help solve the problem and you expect the bullying to stop.
- Discuss how the school leader will keep your child safe when he or she is at the program or school.
- Call your child’s school teacher(s) to see if your child might be experiencing bullying at school. If this is happening and the same children are involved, let the activity leader know about it.
- Keep your school informed about any more bullying in the program or school.
- Talk often with your child and his or her school leader to make sure the bullying stops.
- If your child has been physically assaulted or another child is seriously threatening to injure him or her, you may need to contact the police and/or local authorities.
- What steps can I take to help my child deal with a bullying situation?
While you’re working with the school or organization to stop the bullying, there are things you can do to support your child:
- Spend time with your child. Find out more about the situation. Don’t ignore it or tell your child to ignore it. This sends a message that bullying is okay or something that he or she just has to get through.
- Don’t ask your child what he or she did to deserve it. It’s never the bullied child’s fault. Ask your child to describe what happened, where the bullying took place, who was involved, and if there were any witnesses. Write down this information.
- Even if you don’t agree with the way your child handled the situation, don’t criticize him or her during this first conversation. Discuss other ways of handling a bullying situation later.
- Tell your child he or she was right to let someone know. Thank them for talking to you.
- Try to stay calm. Don’t make negative statements about the bullying child. Think carefully about what you’re going to do.
- Tell your child you’ll do something about it and explain what you’re going to do.
- If your child asks you not to tell, explain what happened was against the rules and you’re worried the bullying will continue if adults at the program don’t know about it. Never promise your child you won’t tell. Working with the staff is an important step to getting the bullying to stop.
- What can I do if my child bullies other students?
If a school leader contacts you about your child’s bullying behavior, it’s important to take it seriously. Although it may be hard to accept, acting quickly will help the bullied child as well as your own. Listen carefully. Don’t immediately defend your child’s actions. This is an opportunity to help your child learn more positive ways to relate with others.>
Here are some things you can do to help:
- Work with the program staff to send a clear message to your child that you’re taking the bullying seriously and it must stop immediately.
- Set clear and simple rules within your family for your child’s behavior. Give positive attention when your child is following the rules and use nonphysical and logical consequences when rules are broken. Be consistent with consequences when they are given.
- Spend lots of time with your child. Talk and listen to him or her. Keep track of his or her activities and behavior. Know who his or her friends are and where he or she spends their free time.
- Encourage your child to spend time with kids who are positive influences and who bring out the best in your child.
- Build on your child’s talents by keeping him or her involved in positive activities such as clubs, music, and nonviolent sports.
If your student needs additional assistance due to being bullied or bullying others, talk with a school counselor or a mental health professional. Parents play a key role in keeping their children safe and healthy. Let’s work together to prevent bullying so your child enjoys the many positive benefits of being involved in school and in programs.
In District 65, the safety of our students and community members remains our top priority. Allegations of bullying are taken seriously and not tolerated or appropriate in any District 65 school building or community. If you feel that your student is being bullied in school, please engage with the appropriate individual in the following chain below until your matter is addressed. Please connect with the individual via email or phone communication.
Steps in Place to Report Bullying:
- Report the incident to School Social Worker
- Report the incident to School Principal
- Report the incident to Dean of Culture and Climate- Elijah Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Report the incident to Asst. Superintendent of Schools- Terrance Little, email@example.com
- Report the incident to Superintendent- Devon Horton, firstname.lastname@example.org
If your student is experiencing any of the following conditions listed below, please reach out to their school counselor to report these issues immediately -
- Eating disorders
- Family Issues
- Financial Issues
- Physical, Sexual, Emotional Abuse
- A threat to someone else’s safety
- An issue that does not appear on this list.