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Note from Dr. McKinney 10/21/13

This is National Bullying Prevention Month; I think it is appropriate to clarify what is bullying and what is not. Sometimes, something happens and immediately it is referred to as 'bullying', when in fact it is usually not. From the stopbullying.gov website:
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. I have been made aware of instances on the playground or in the school building when a student is physically hurt, either a shove or a scratch, jacket or lunchbox swung around or similar. Please know that this type of behavior is definitely not appropriate and may be treated as an 'assault' according to district policy, if there was intent to hurt or it is a repeat occurrence of the behavior that results in an injury. For Seattle Public Schools, Assault is defined as: E-210 Assault
Being physically violent, using unwarranted force, or demonstrating the deliberate and immediate intent to be physically violent, toward another person, including domestic violence.

Seattle Public Schools defines Bullying as follows: D-310 Bullying, Intimidation, and Harassment
Engaging in intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical bullying, intimidating, or harassing conduct that: is for the purpose of embarrassing or denigrating another person; physically harms a person or damages the person's property; is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment; has the effect of substantially interfering with the student's education or adult's right to teach or manage student behavior; or has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.

Given these interpretations by our district, I want you to know and feel assured that we have very little Bullying, Intimidation, and Harassment occurring on this campus. Most of what happens is a result of students not 'Managing Impulsivity' (our Habit of the Mind this month) – a one-time event, e.g. someone gets 'out' in 4-square and they don't think they are out, an argument ensues, student voices rise, and one student 'gets in the face' of another and that student pushes that student away and then…you see my point. THIS is what happens more often than not on the playground or in the building. Another example, a tag game becomes too rough and a student gets 'tagged' by another as they run past them, the tag was too hard and the student falls down, again, this happens, too. We believe playing tag is an important part of child play and we want to teach kids to play tag 'nicely'.

You can help us with these issues at home by modeling appropriate 'tagging' of another, modeling how to de-escalate a disagreement by immediately going to 'rock, paper, scissors' (our resolution of choice!) when there is a heated moment of disagreement. Now if the student is continually involved in incidents like this, then the consequences become more progressive and specific.

I handle these according to district policy.



K5 STEM in the News! 11/26/12

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