L. Butler, J. Perry Evenstad, C. Sanjurjo

Metropolitan State University of Denver (UNITED STATES)
Students bullying each other is not a new or recent phenomena, ever since children, young adults, and even adults have come together to learn and work in groups bullying has occurred. Often the behaviors that are seen are teasing, fighting, and bullying. However, many adults and students may not be certain when teasing can turn into bullying and when bullying can cross the line and become a form of harassment that could rise to a legal offense. The most widely used definition over the past twenty years of bullying is one based on the research of Dr. Dan Olweus, of the University of Bergen in Norway: “A student is being bullied or victimized when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other students (1993).” Verbal bullying can range from name calling, taunting, spreading rumors, threatening, verbal humiliation, and teasing. The negative behavior can also be visual, such as dirty gestures, threatening gestures, and intentionally excluding someone. The visual modalities have now included the various forms of cyber bullying where electronic means, be it the computer, cell phone or tablet is used to send threatening messages and compromising pictures that can be intimidating. The many physical forms of bullying are often easier to detect. They include pushing, shoving, kicking, tripping, punching, and restraining the victim/target. When bullying crosses the line in the United States, if it is race, sex/gender, ability/disability or based on national origin it can become a civil rights violation. Verbal, visual, and physical behaviors that are race, gender and national origin based can rise to the level of racial harassment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, national origin (based on country and language) and all need to be addressed by the federal, state, and school district’s policies and procedures. Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Titles IV & VI, Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) cover discriminatory harassment (Stopbullying.gov, 2012). This information and other issues will be addressed in the presentation.

Schoolyard bullying has been occurring since there have been schoolyards. Bullying in the digital age, however, has morphed and looks significantly different. Called cyberbullying, this method of control and intimidation resembles in some ways the dynamics of domestic violence where there is a power differential as well as tendency for outsiders to blame the victim. How often are children who are bullied are told to “just ignore it- they’ll stop” or to tell a teacher, or to fight back? In all of these instances the focus is on the victim as opposed to the perpetrator. Additionally, in cyberbullying the imbalance of power is offsetting. When a child is receiving dozens of mean texts, there is no recourse; no way to shove back, even if they want to. We will explore the nature, methods and consequences of cyberbullying, as well as suggestions for addressing it. The presentation will also include resources and materials that will aid all stakeholders in preventing bullying in their schools and to make all institutions of learning safe for all students.