The Howard County Public School System is committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for all students. Preventing bullying is an important part of this goal and HCPSS recently launched a new bullying reporting tool that allows students, staff and family members to easily and confidentially report incidents of bullying.
The new form replaces a third-party reporting system that has been in place for several years. It is mobile-friendly, accessible to all users, better aligns to the State’s reporting requirements, and seamlessly integrates with other HCPSS systems, which will provide greater efficiency for school administrators and reduce the potential for human error. The new tool was developed with input from students, parents, school administrators and other staff, and community members. Additionally, HCPSS staff collaborated closely with the Howard County Police Department and the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office to review and clarify our procedures for reporting and the investigation of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment and intimidation, and to discuss shared roles and responsibilities.
Definition of Bullying
Intentional conduct, including verbal, physical or written conduct, or an intentional electronic communication that creates a hostile educational environment by substantially interfering with a student or staff member’s educational benefits, opportunities or performance, or with their physical or psychological well-being. Intentional conduct is also considered bullying if it:
- Is motivated by an actual or perceived personal characteristic including race, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ancestry, physical attributes, socioeconomic status, familial status, or physical or mental ability or disability.
- Is threatening or seriously intimidating.
- Occurs on school property, at a school activity or event, or on a school bus; or, substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a school or workplace.
Differences between peer conflict and bullying
Normal Peer Conflict
- Peers have equal power or are friends with each other.
- Conflict happens occasionally or rarely.
- May be accidental.
- May not be serious; no threat of harm.
- Equal emotional reaction from both peers.
- Not seeking power or attention and not trying to gain something.
- General remorse – will want to take responsibility.
- Effort on both sides to solve the problem.
- Imbalance of power between peers; not friends.
- Repeated negative actions that happens often.
- Purposefully done.
- Serious with threat of physical or emotional harm.
- Strong emotional reaction from victim and little or no emotional reaction from bully.
- Seeking power, control or material things.
- No remorse – bully blames victim; no guilt from bully.
- No effort to solve the problem.
*Adapted from Bully-Proofing Your School, 2004