Bullying and Harassment Helping Schools to Get on Target James C. Backstrom Dakota County Attorney 2002-2003
Bullying Is: • Repeated and targeted harassment and attacks on others • Perpetrated by individuals or groups
Memory Lane • Think back to your own youth. • What bully’s name comes to mind? • What impact has that bully had over the years…
Type of Bully • Introvert • Extrovert Adapted from Webster-Doyle (1991)
Introvert Bully • Charming • Likable • Says the right thing at the right time • Smooth talker • Leave It To Beaver’s “Eddie Haskell”
Extrovert Bully • Angry • Aggressive • Demanding • Mean • More interested in things outside themselves • Back to the Future “Biff”
What is Bullying? Takes many forms: • Physical violence • Verbal taunts, name-calling and putdowns • Threats and intimidation • Extortion or stealing of money and possessions • Exclusion from the peer group Source: London Family Court, London, Ontario, Canada
What is a Bully? Someone who: • Wants power • Is willing to use others to get what he wants • Is concerned with his own desires rather than thinking about anyone else • Finds it difficult to see things from someone else’s perspective
Boys who bully usually . . . • Intimidate • Extort • Attack physically or verbally
Girls who bully usually . . . • Exclude socially • Manipulate • Spread rumors • Set up a victim to look stupid
The Eye of the Target = Victim • Anyone can be the target • Physical traits • Psychological traits • Typical victim • Overweight, small, disabled • Shy, sensitive, anxious, insecure • “Different” National Crime Prevention Council “Helping Kids Handle Conflict” (1995) ISBN 093413-28-7
The Impact of Bullying • Bullying has lasting effects on everyone involved: • Bully • Victim • Bystander
Impact on the Bully • Bullying peaks in middle school and continues into high school • Aggressive/bully behavior can lead to dangerous situations for both the bully and the victim • 1 in 4 will have a criminal record by age 30 • Bullies have greater chemical and mental health issues
Impact on Victim • Feeling scared • Low self-esteem • Grades suffer • Even as “good” students, they may turn to violence • Feeling of isolation carried into adulthood
Impact on Bystanders • Lowered self-esteem • Loss of control • Feeling of powerlessness • Often scared and isolated
Ratting vs… • Ratting is a student telling about another to get them into… TROUBLE
…Reporting • Reporting occurs to protect one’s SAFETY
Our Culture of ViolencePromotes Bullying Behavior • TV • Movies • Music • Video Games
More Stats: Kids and Bullies • The National Association of School Psychologists estimates that every day 160,000 children miss school because of fear of bullying. • U.S. Department of Justice reports that 37% of all students don’t feel safe at school. • 2001 Minnesota Student Survey reports …
More Stats: Kids and Bullies • 49% of parents see bullying as no problem even though recent studies show that as many as 75% of children have been victims of bullying. • Children who are bullies by age eight have a 1 in 4 chance of having a criminal record by age thirty.
A Few Stats: Kids and Bullies • More than 43% of middle school students (grades 6-8) have threatened to harm another student. • One in every 8 middle school students has been regularly harassed or attacked by a bully, twice the rate for high school students. • Bystander stat?
Dakota County District Court Policy • Applies to older youth (13-17) who are involved in a pattern of harassment, repeated aggression or physical assaults where one youth is clearly the aggressor • At least one night in detention
Dakota County District Court Policy (cont.) • Crimes against teachers will result in more serious consequences • Victim offender mediation may occur • Dispositions may include community work service and apology
How Real Is The Problem? • Last year in Dakota County, we charged 260 Fifth Degree Assaults. • These cases involve aggression and harassment – otherwise disorderly conduct is charged.
How Do We Stop Bullying? • Parents have primary responsibility for monitoring their children and controlling their behavior. • Parents need to teach concepts of respect, proper boundaries, and responsibility. • Parents and school staff need to work together to keep schools safe.
What School Staff Can Do To Stay On Target? • Do not tolerate aggressive behavior. • Enforce school policies that seek to reduce violence. • Foster an atmosphere of kindness and concern toward others and property. • Use every opportunity to build self-esteem. • Encourage students to report crimes or activities that make them suspicious.
Staying on Target (cont.) • Encourage children to be part of the solution. • Teach simple social skills to children. • Let students know that you are available to discuss problems or concerns privately. • Discuss the topic of bullies with students occasionally. • Teach cooperation by having students work in groups.
Staying on Target (cont.) • Involve parents – invite them to talk with you about their child’s progress and concerns. • Learn how to recognize the warning signs that a child might be headed for violence. • Alert school counselors or administrators to any problems. • Develop a School Safety Plan. Include resources such as peer mediation, restitution and patience for differences.
Teach Children What To Do If Targeted • There is safety in numbers, walk with others. • Say “no” to a bully’s demands from the start. • Avoid or ignore the bully. • If threatened with a weapon, give in to the demands and immediately tell an adult.
Teach Children What To Do If Targeted (cont.) • Tell the bully to stop threatening. • Do not physically fight back. • Seek immediate help from an adult. • If you fear for safety, report it to an adult· • If safety is at stake, walk away or run if needed.
Prioritizing Prosecutions In Schools • Priority processing of all crimes that occur on school property or school buses. • Prosecutors are linked with specific schools as a resource for school personnel. • Improves opportunity for student to be held accountable, responsible and rehabilitated.
Schools need to be a safe environment for learning • Everyone should be treated with respect. • Students need to be held accountable and responsible for their actions. • When actions occur that affect safety, quickintervention is needed. • We must work together to stay on target!
National Association of School Psychologists National Crime Prevention Council London Family Court Minnesota Student Survey (2001) Office of Juvenile Justice and Drug Policy U.S. Department of Justice Our thanks to the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office, New Jersey For More Information Contact: Monica Jensen at 651-438-4440 Dakota County Attorney’s Office Resources