Harassment: Harassment is the intentional behavior by a student or group of students that is disturbing or threatening to another student or group of students. Intentional behaviors that characterize harassment include, but are not limited to stalking, hazing, social exclusion, name calling, unwanted physical contact and unwelcome verbal or written comments, photographs and graphics. Harassment may be related, but not limited to, race, religious orientation, sexual orientation, cultural background, economic status, size or personal appearance. Harassing behaviors can be direct or indirect and by use of social media.
Intimidation: Intimidation is intentional behavior by a student or group of students that places another student or group of students in fear of harm of person or property. Intimidation can be manifested emotionally or physically, either directly or indirectly, and by use of social media.
Bellingham Public Schools is committed to a safe and civil educational environment for all students, employees, parents/legal guardians, volunteers and community members that is free from harassment, intimidation or bullying. We provide comprehensive anti-bullying training to staff and volunteers, and we also provide students with evidence-based prevention programs that are designed to increase social competency, and improve school climate and eliminate harassment, intimidation and bullying in schools.
Bullying is defined as negative actions which are intentional, repeated, and there is a power imbalance.
When we become aware of harassment, intimidation or bullying, we have very specific steps we take including:
- Whenever possible we attempt to resolve the issue immediately. If all parties feel it has been resolved, no action may be necessary.
- If the issue is unresolved, we investigate, starting by determining if there is potential for immediate harm to the complainant, and contacting law enforcement and the parent/guardian, if there is.
- We make changes at the school and classroom level to ensure that no further incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying occur. Sometimes this includes creating a safety plan that changes seating arrangements or class schedules, and/or identifies a staff member who will act as a safe person.
- Administrators and other personnel conduct an investigation that includes interviews with both parties and students or staff who may have knowledge of the incident, as well as reviews of any previous complaints involving either party.
- When the investigation has been completed, we notify parent/guardians of the results. Because of the laws around student confidentiality, we often cannot provide specific information to the targeted student’s parent/guardian about any disciplinary action taken.
- We institute corrective measures for the student exhibiting bullying behavior as quickly as possible. Corrective measures vary according to the nature of the behavior, the developmental age of the student, or the student’s history of problem behaviors and may include counseling, education, discipline and/or referral to law enforcement.
- We provide support for students found to be targets of harassment, intimidation or bullying. These can include counseling or other support.
- Both the aggressor’s and the targeted student’s parents/guardians have the right to appeal if they are dissatisfied with the results of the investigation.
The steps above are meant to provide an overview and are not a comprehensive description of our response to bullying. For a full and detailed description of the process we follow for every report of unresolved, severe or persistent harassment, intimidation or bullying, see https://bellinghamschools.org/procedures/3207-procedure/.
Anyone who believes that harassment, intimidation or bullying has occurred should report the behavior to a teacher, counselor, school nurse or school administrator. To report unresolved, severe or persistent harassment, you can: