October is National Bullying Prevention Month, which was created with the goal of transforming a society that accepts bullying into one that recognizes that bullying can be addressed through education and support. It’s a great time for your school community to raise awareness of bullying and its consequences, and to promote your bullying prevention efforts.
Ohio law defines “harassment, intimidation and bullying” in RC 3313.666 as either:
- Any intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical act that a student has exhibited toward another particular student more than once and which:
- causes mental or physical harm to the other student and
- is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student; or
- Violence within a dating relationship.
School district responsibilities
The law requires boards of education to establish a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying (“bullying”). The policy must include:
- A statement prohibiting bullying on school property or buses, or at school-sponsored events, and expressly providing for suspension as a consequence for a student found responsible for bullying by an electronic act.
- A definition of bullying.
- Procedures for reporting incidents of bullying, and for documenting and responding to reported incidents.
- Requirements that school personnel report incidents of bullying to a school principal or another designated person and that parents/guardians of students involved in bullying are notified and have access to written reports pertaining to incidents of bullying.
- A strategy for protecting a victim from additional harassment and retaliation following a report, including a means for anonymous reporting, a statement prohibiting false reports, and a disciplinary procedure addressing deliberate false reporting.
- A disciplinary procedure for students guilty of bullying.
- A requirement that the district administration provide a written summary of all reported incidents to the school board president, and post the summary on its website, on a semiannual basis.
Schools wishing to promote bullying awareness and prevention can find valuable resources at the following websites:
- Ohio Department of Education
- StopBullying.gov, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE), an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent youth violence, including bullying
- The Office of Adolescent Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Among other events planned for this month is Unity Day, on Tuesday, Oct. 10, when people are encouraged to wear orange in support of students who have been bullied.