Anti-Bullying Code of Conduct
The following Anti-bullying Student Code of Conduct is contained in all seven of the North Andover Public School Student Handbooks:
The North Andover Public School Department is committed to creating and sustaining a school culture where everyone is treated with dignity and embraces the values represented by RAISE:
Respect: As a community, we will value respect. We will think about others before speaking or taking any action. We will appreciate the contributions of others, while showing respect for ourselves, other people, personal and/or community property and environment.
Achievement: As a community, we will value achievement. We will exercise our best effort and judgment in all activities in which we participate and will set goals that promote positive academic, social, and personal development.
Inclusion: As a community, we will value inclusion. We have a responsibility to break down barriers by inviting new people into teams, circles of friends, and experiences as we work to be a unified, collaborative community.
Service: As a community, we will value service. We believe the growth and improvement of a relationship and community depends on the willingness of others to contribute support to the greater good.
Empathy: As a community, we value empathy. We will be aware of and consider another person’s situation, feelings or motives before speaking or taking action.
To make this possible, we recognize that one of our most important responsibilities is to create and sustain a safe school environment where students can focus on their education and all feel welcome. As in any school, to achieve this goal we must acknowledge that bullying can occur within our community and it is our obligation to respond to it in the most effective manner possible.
Bullying often occurs outside of the physical school grounds, yet these actions still impact the safety of our students as if they have occurred on the school grounds. Any bullying behavior demonstrated at school or outside of school that impacts our school community will be addressed by the school. Examples of bullying outside the school could be (but are not limited to) the following:
- Bullying can be direct or indirect, blatant or subtle. It involves an imbalance of power and repeated and intentional actions.
- Bullying is any behavior considered physical aggression, social aggression, verbal aggression, written aggression, intimidation, sexual harassment, or racial/ethnic harassment.
- Bullying is cutting someone off from essential relationships.
- Bullying includes isolating the victim by making them feel rejected by his/her community.
- Bullying is malicious gossip and rumor spreading.
Cyber bullying, the sending or posting of harmful or cruel text images using the internet or other digital communication devices, is one of the most challenging issues facing administrators, parents, and law enforcement officials. Cyber bullying can be extremely vicious. Victimization is ongoing (24/7) and, can be distributed worldwide and often irretrievable. Because it can be anonymous, students who engage in cyber bullying are bolder and less fearful of getting caught. Cyber bullying can include:
- Electronic communication that includes physical threats and/or malicious gossip and slander.
- Hit lists or polls via-e-mail or other methods of communication naming specific students and/or teachers.
- Using cell phones to take compromising or humiliating pictures or videos of the target and sending those pictures or videos to everyone in their address book or posting them online.
- Numerous calls or text messages to a cell phone in order to run up a large phone bill for the target.
- Stolen identity: sending the text messages through a website using the name and phone number of the target in order to get the target in trouble, spread rumors, or tempt others to retaliate against the target.
We recognize there are 3 roles that are typically played by students in a bullying situation: that of the bully, the bullied, and the bystander.
The bullied is the one being targeted.
The bully is typically thought of as the student who starts the bullying and takes an active part. However, a bully can also include a follower/henchmen, someone who takes an active part but does not start the bullying; a passive bully, one who supports the bullying but does not take an active part; or a passive supporter, a possible bully who likes the bulling but does not display open support.
Bystanders can take the role of disengaged onlookers, students who watch what happens and say, “Its none of my business.” Bystanders can also be possible defenders who dislike the bullying and think they ought to help out (but don’t do it); or, are defenders of the target, those who dislike the bullying and help or try to help the one who is the target. Those who stand by or turn away have their own costs. We recognize that the self-confidence and self-respect of the bystanders are eroded as they wrestle with their fears about getting involved and with the knowledge that to do nothing is to abdicate their moral responsibility to their peer who is the target.
As a school, we will take any report of bullying seriously. The District’s approach to bullying is one of restitution, resolution and reconciliation. Staff will provide support for the victim while working to change the behavior of the bully through a combination of education and problem solving. When appropriate, staff will meet with one or more of the students playing the role of the bullied, the bully, and/or the bystander to resolve issues and try to achieve reconciliation. Bullying will be responded to through a continuum of consequences and interventions as outlined in this handbook. Consequences can range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion of students. Consequences shall be varied and graded according to the nature of the behavior, the developmental age of the student and the student’s history of problem behaviors and performance and will be consistent with the discipline rights and responsibilities, and due process contained in this handbook.
Please understand that we want all our students to feel valued and respected in our school. These situations are hard for everyone-students, parents, school administrators, and educators alike, but the actions we take in these moments truly show what we stand for as a community.
(Reference: Barbara Coloroso, The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander)
Massachusetts Bullying Legislation
On May 3, 2010, Governor Patrick signed into law comprehensive legislation to address bullying in public and non-public schools. An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools, Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010
The Act requires school leaders to create and implement strategies to prevent bullying, and to address bullying promptly and effectively when it occurs. The law, which took effect immediately upon signing, includes timelines for a number of activities to be undertaken by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and schools, these include:
Prevention Plan: Each school district must create a Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (Plan) that prohibits bullying, cyberbullying, and retaliation. The Plan is to include information on reporting, notice to parents and guardians, notice to law enforcement as necessary and counseling strategies and procedures for creating safety plans for victims. Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans must be updated every other year.
Student Handbooks: School handbooks must be amended to include an age appropriate summary of the new Plan.
Bullying Prevention and Instruction: Each school district is required to provide age-appropriate instruction on bullying prevention for students in each grade that is incorporated into the curriculum of the school or district. The curriculum must be evidence-based, and information about it must be made available to parents and guardians.
Professional Development: School districts must implement, for all school staff, professional development that includes developmentally appropriate strategies for bullying prevention and intervention, research findings on bullying, and information on cyberbullying and internet safety.
Special Education: For students identified with a disability on the autism spectrum, the IEP Team must consider and specifically address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.
Whenever the IEP Team evaluation indicates that a student's disability affects social skills development, or when the student's disability makes him or her vulnerable to bullying, harassment, or teasing, the IEP must address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.