BPI Bulletin Board

Thank you for visiting Belmont's new Bullying Prevention and Intervention website. This web page was designed as a tool to educate the community about bullying and school policy as well as to provide bullying prevention and intervention resources for students and parents. Thanks for checking it out!

Massachusetts' Anti-Bullying Legislation

In May of 2010, the state of Massachusetts took steps to protect all students from unwanted, aggressive behavior by passing anti-bullying legislation. The Massachusetts anti-bullying law prohibits bullying on school grounds, buses, and activities and requires that schools take steps to report and respond to bullying. The Belmont community and the Belmont Public Schools developed a plan to educate students, parents, and educators about bullying and to let you know what you should do if you experience or witness bullying behaviors at school. It is the expectation of the Belmont Public Schools that every student, parent, and staff member is familiar with the  Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan.

What is bullying? Important Definitions

Sources: Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center http://webhost.bridgew.edu/marc and www.StopBullying.gov  

BULLYING is aggressive behavior that is intended to physically or emotionally harm another person. Bullying differs from normal conflict in that:

  • It is deliberate and targeted.
  • It involves an imbalance of physical or psychological power. The power advantage of one student over another may be due to social status, age, size, ability, and/or popularity.
  • It is repetitive.

Bullying involves at least two parties: the AGGRESSOR, a student or staff member who engages in bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation and the TARGET, a student against whom bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation has been committed. A child may bully another child to gain social status, to get attention, to compensate for mental, physical, or social inadequacies, to gain a sense of power, or as a means of expressing frustration with problems at home or at school. Often aggressors have a history of aggressive behavior, are quick to anger, and tend to interpret neutral social situations as threatening or hostile.

TARGETS are often seen as “different” or vulnerable in some way. This difference may be due to size, age, appearance, ability, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Targets of bullying tend to be passive and have lower social status, which makes it difficult  for them to stand up to aggressors. If bullying behaviors continue unchecked, a target is likely to feel that the bullying is somehow their fault. For some children, bullying can lead to anxiety or depression, a decrease in academic performance, and social withdrawal.

BYSTANDERS are students who observe, but do not respond to bullying. In the school setting, most students fall into the category of bystander.

Bullying can take many forms including:

  • Physical - hitting, punching, shoving, blocking one’s way, damaging someone else’s property
  • Verbal - name-calling, teasing, threatening harm
  • Social - spreading rumors, excluding people on purpose, breaking up friendships
  • Cyber - using the Internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harm others

BULLYING as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is the repeated use by one or more students or staff members of a written, verbal, or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that:

  • Causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property;
  • Places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or of damage to his or her property;
  • Creates a hostile environment at school for the target;
  • Infringes on the rights of the target at school; or
  • Materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

CYBER-BULLYING is bullying through the use of technology or electronic devices such as telephones, cell phones, computers, and the Internet. It includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messages, text messages, and Internet postings. See M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O for the legal definition of cyber-bullying.

RETALIATION is any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment directed against a student who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying.