WHAT IS A BULLY?

By Dee Wampler

Twenty-five years ago a “bully” was a kid shoving or beating a kid up on the playground. Today, a bully doesn’t have to use fists but could be a faceless, hidden person hiding behind a text message, a Facebook post, or a Snapchat.

Schools today are working for zero tolerance for bullying, preventing it on school property, or functions, or on a school bus.  House Bill 1583 (January 1, 2017) gives schools the ability to address bullying even if it occurs while a child is at home on their personal cell phone.

To be classified as bullying, courts look at three (3) things:  1)  Was there harm that occurred; 2)  Was there an unfair match, and 3)  Is there repetition – has this occurred over a period of time?

Bullying is defined as intimidation, unwanted aggressive behavior or harassment, repetitive, substantially likely to be repeated and causing a reasonable student to fear for his or her personal safety.  Bullying substantially interferes with the educational performance of schools and with the orderly operation of the school.

Bullying includes cyber bullying as a “transmission of a communication including, but not limited to a message, text, sound, or image by means of en electronic device…”

School power now expands to off-campus cyber bullying as long as it impacts the learning environment.[1]  Once disclosed, schools have ten days to make a ruling to make sure that the victim is safeguarded.  Saying something rude or by accident is one thing but saying it with intent to be mean and to harm is another.

Both students and parents need to be educated as to what is or is not bullying since the term gets thrown around loosely.  The new law attempts to get all schools on the same page:

(1)     The new law gives clearer definitions of bullying and cyber bullying, and

(2)     Allows schools to intervene in cyber bullying that takes place outside

of the district but directly impacts the learning environment.

 

[1] Amelia Wigton, Christian County Headliner News, February 1, 2017, P. 5A.