Over the months of January through March, a bullying awareness and action campaign is being implemented in response to higher than acceptable percentages from our 3rd through 5th graders on our annual student climate survey. Each spring, intermediate students are provided a district survey and asked questions regarding personal experiences with bullying. Last year, 67% of our intermediate students indicated they had been bullied at school. Given that we had only one incident on record in the office for reports of bullying, and low numbers of pre-bullying behaviors reported in the classrooms, we believe this number is high, possibly, due in part to a misunderstanding of the definition of bullying. This year’s efforts will help staff and administration more fully understand the extent to which bullying is occurring at John Hay, and respond accordingly to this very important issue.
Last week, at our monthly awards assembly, Ms. Hanson held the first of a series of instructional assemblies around Bullying Awareness entitled Bullies Beware. Following our awards assembly, our third through fifth graders remained for an extended time of learning where Ms. Hanson led the group in understanding the definition of bullying. Ms. Hanson helped students understand that while mean behaviors are never okay at school, not all mean behaviors are ‘bullying behaviors’. Ms. Hanson explained that unkind or mean behaviors fall into three basic categories: Conflict, fighting, or bullying. Here are some important tips for parents when discerning between conflict, fighting, or bullying behaviors:
Bullying is defined to students as:
Behavior that is unfair and one-sided. It happens when someone keeps hurting, frightening, threatening, or leaving someone out on purpose (repeated over time).
When someone uses power to hurt someone else (older, more popular, bigger, etc.)
Below is some information to guide discussions you may have with your child around behaviors sometimes thought of as bullying.
CONFLICT: with a friend or someone that is not a friend; doesn’t happen over and over; both have the same power; nobody intends to harm the other
FIGHTING: Usually not with a friend; usually doesn’t happen over and over; both usually have the same power; both intend to harm each other
BULLYING: Usually not friends; hurtful behavior that happens over and over; someone has more power; one intends to hurt the other.
Our next assembly, in March, will be designed around the goals of teaching students how to respond to behavior if it is a conflict, a fight, or a bullying situation. Finally, we will spend time in classrooms and/or at a 3-5 assembly talking about bystander responsibility and responding to identified bullying behavior.
This spring, our Parent Education Night will be focusing on student safety with a presentation on cyber-bullying and other Internet safety concerns. A detective from the Seattle Police Department will be our guest – it is an important night that all parents will not want to miss. Circle April 28 on your calendars and plan now to come learn about this important safety topic for you and your children.
The John Hay Big Five: