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
- Bullying – is unwanted, demeaning behavior among students that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or is highly likely to be repeated, over time. To be considered bullying, the behavior must be intentional and include: 1) an imbalance of power (students who bully use their physical, emotional, social, or academic power to control, exclude, or harm others), and 2) repetition (bullying behaviors happen more than once or are highly likely to be repeated based on evidence gathered).
- Cyberbullying – is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through texting, apps, or online via social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or hurtful content about another student. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation.
- Harassment – includes actual or perceived negative actions that offend, ridicule, or demean another student with regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, family/parental or marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, ancestry, physical attributes, socioeconomic status, physical or mental ability, or disability.
- Intimidation – is any communication or action directed against another student that threatens or induces a sense of fear and/or inferiority. Retaliation may be considered a form of intimidation.
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
For More Information
Sexual Discirimination, Harassment, and Misconduct can also be reported on this form. Please use this link to reference more information as needed Sexual Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct and Title IX – HCPSS.