Cyberbullying/Harassment Prevention and Intervention Policy
The Susquehanna Valley Central School District affirms its commitment to maintaining both educational and work settings which support respect, dignity and equality. Further, Susquehanna Valley also recognizes its responsibility to provide an environment that is free of harassment, hazing, and/or bullying. The District recognizes that these acts are counter to the mission of the district and the goals of the school district. By disrupting the learning environment, these behaviors affect all concerned with the educational mission: those bullied, those doing the bullying, and bystanders. As a result, the District forbids all forms of harassment, hazing, and bullying.
For purposes of this policy, the term “harassment” is defined as the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being; or conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety. The harassing behavior may be based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender (identity or expression).
For purposes of this policy, the term "bullying" (which is subsumed under the term “harassment”) is defined, in general, as a variety of hostile activities which harms or induces fear through the threat of further aggression and/or creates terror. “Bullying” is a form of harassment that consists of inappropriate and often persistent behavior including threats or intimidation of others, treating others cruelly, terrorizing, coercing, or habitual put-downs and/or badgering of others. Bullying can take at least three forms: Physical (including, but not limited to, hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing, taking personal belongings); Verbal (including, but not limited to, taunting, malicious teasing, name calling, making threats); and Psychological (including, but not limited to, spreading rumors; manipulating social relationships; or engaging in social exclusion, extortion, or intimidation).
Cyber bullying is an attempt to display power and control over someone perceived as weaker. Cyber bullying involving Susquehanna Valley students may occur both on campus and off school grounds and may involve student use of the District Internet system or student use of electronic devices while at school, such as cell phones, digital cameras, and personal computers to engage in bullying. Cyber bullying includes, but is not limited to, the following misuses of technology: harassing, teasing, intimidating, threatening, or terrorizing another student or staff member by way of any technological tool, such as sending or posting inappropriate or derogatory e-mail messages, instant messages, text messages, digital pictures or images, or Web site postings (including blogs).
Cyber bullying has the effect of:
- Physically, emotionally or mentally harming a student;
- Placing a student in reasonable fear of physical, emotional or mental harm;
- Placing a student in reasonable fear of damage to or loss of personal property; and
- Creating an intimidating or hostile environment that substantially interferes with a student's educational opportunities.
Also, cyber bullying that occurs off-campus, which endangers the
health and safety of students or staff within the school or can be reasonably
forcast to cause a material or substantial disruption to the educational
process, is prohibited. Such conduct could also be subject to appropriate
disciplinary action in accordance with the District Code of Conduct and
possible referral to local law enforcement authorities.
The school learning environment provides an opportunity for both students and staff to gain an appreciation in a key district value: the importance of respect and working positively with others. The District recognizes that by requiring the implementation of an anti-bullying program, through both direct student instruction and professional development for staff, both students and staff will learn key elements about bullying prevention: the warning signs of bullying and everyone’s responsibility to take an active role in preventing bullying before overt acts of bullying happen.
Personnel at all levels are responsible for taking corrective action to prevent bullying behavior of which they have been made aware at School District sites or activities and/or reporting such behavior to their immediate supervisor.
The District recognizes the importance of eliminating unacceptable student conduct and works proactively to prevent these behaviors. School personnel who become aware of harassment shall act promptly to address the harassment, with the goal of preventing it from recurring. Where appropriate, school personnel will address the effects on the student who was harassed. Remedial measures will generally include counseling of persons(s) who have been harmed by harassment and person(s) who have been responsible for the harassment of others and implementing monitoring programs to follow up on addressed issues of harassment. Prevention and intervention techniques within the District to prevent against bullying behavior and to support and protect victims shall include building-level and classroom-level strategies and activities as determined by administration. Individual intervention will be provided by appropriate staff members to bullies/participants, victims and their parents to help ensure that the bullying stops.
Although the focus of this policy is prevention, it is recognized that acts of bullying and harassment may still transpire. In such instances, disciplinary action may occur in accordance with the District’s Code of Conduct. Consequences shall depend upon the specific circumstances surrounding the incident, the developmental level of the student, their disciplinary history, and must be consistent with the District’s Code of Conduct. Rules against bullying shall be publicized District-wide and shall be disseminated as appropriate to staff, students and parents.
Staff training shall be provided to raise awareness of the problem of bullying within the schools and to facilitate staff identification of and response to such bullying behavior among students. Training will be provided to employees in conjunction with the District’s existing professional development in order to: raise awareness and understanding of the school district's Code of Conduct; raise awareness and sensitivity to potential acts of discrimination or harassment directed at students that are committed by students or school employees on school property or at school functions; including, but not limited to, discrimination or harassment based on a person's actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practices, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex; enable employees to prevent and respond to incidents of discrimination and harassment.
At least one employee in every school shall be designated as a Dignity Act Coordinator and instructed in the provisions of the proposed rule and thoroughly trained in methods to respond to human relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender and sex. The designation of each Dignity Act Coordinator shall be approved by the board of education annually.
This guidance is meant to provide ideas to address the issue of cyberbullying. You are invited to contact the NYS Education Department’s Office of Student Support Services at (518) 486-6090 or the www.p12.nysed.gov/dignityact if you require additional assistance.