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More information for parents about bullying and DASA

Isn’t bullying and harassment often “in the eye of the beholder?”

Actions do not necessarily have to be physical to rise to the legal definition of bullying. Name calling, spreading rumors, taunting, public embarrassment, excluding someone, sexual teasing can all be considered bullying along with hitting, pinching, tripping and other physical attacks.

Under the Dignity Act, bullying is any harassment or conduct (verbal or nonverbal) that is unwanted, aggressive, repeated (or has the potential to be repeated over time) and involves a real or perceived imbalance of power.

DASA coordinators are trained to distinguish between bullying and typical peer conflicts, mistakes and misunderstandings.

Because the law specifically defines harassment, bullying and other acts of discrimination and aggression, it isn’t always necessary for a student to complain, or even feel bullied by certain behaviors. School staff is responsible for upholding the letter of the law, and doing what they can to create a safe school climate.

What’s in the “eye of the beholder” doesn’t offer an excuse for staff not to step in when they become aware of situations that may meet the law’s definitions.



Why don’t kids ask for help?

According to the website,, statistics from the 2008-09 School Crime Supplement show that adults were notified in only one out of three bullying cases.

• Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.

• Kids may fear backlash from the kid who bullied them.

• Bullying can be a humiliating experience. Kids may not want adults to know what is being said about them, whether true or false. They may also fear that adults will judge them or punish them for being weak.

• Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or could understand.

• Kids may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect kids from bullying, and kids can fear losing this support.



When you see something, say something

Part of growing a safe school culture is empowering bystanders to speak up when they witness an incident of harassment, discrimination or bullying. Dignity Act Coordinators are trained to assist witnesses in a confidential manner.

It’s not ratting if reporting an incident keeps someone safe. Students in potentially dangerous situations need help from an adult. That’s why bystanders are encouraged to get help.

The culture of a safe school lies in respect shown for everyone, and the commitment by everybody that disrespecting others will not be tolerated at HFM BOCES.



THE HFM BOCES Board of Education Policy Manual, including the student code of conduct, is available online at