Identifying bullying in the digital age

Over generations the lines on what constitutes bullying seems to change and this is once again at the topic of conversation with today being National Stop Bullying Day.

But to understand why it changes, we must understand what bullying is.

Under the California State Education code section 48900(r), bullying means any severe, or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act.

The San Juan Unified School District Bullying Prevention page defines bullying as someone repeatedly, and on purpose, says or does hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending themselves.

Bullying includes a variety of tactics, not just one, according to Joyce Long, school counselor of Lichen K-8 Elementary School in Sacramento.

"When we look at bullying, we look at all aspects," Long said. 

Some of the main ones coming from a lot of students are direct or indirect, verbal, physical, cyber, psychological, rumors, exclusion, sexual, racial, threats and damage of personal items.

Long has come across situations where a child involved had no inclination that their specific actions could be a form of bullying.

"I had an experience with one of my students, a while back, that didn't understand why exclusionary was a form of bullying," Long said. "We broke it down to its simplest form and explained what it must feel like, look like and sound like."

Christina Sparks, the Prevention Supervisor for the San Juan Unified School District, knows there's a fine line between kids joking and actual bullying.

"There is conflict and teasing among kids," Sparks said. "It's distinguishing the difference between the two."

This is one of the debated topics when it comes to the defense of a kid's action.

One of the ways bullying has changed is through cyber bullying with the use of technology and social media sites.

"When we talk specifically about cyber with our students, (we remind them) it's something that lasts forever,” Long said. "These are things that have lasting effects socially and emotionally."

Sparks also discussed how technology plays a role, but in terms of prevention.

"As technology has grown and teens access technology, the types of bullying have changed," she said. "We start at the elementary level for prevention."

The recurring sentiment on the lines of what constitutes bullying is subjective, due to the fact there are different forms, but they all equally contribute to the problem.

The San Juan Unified School District has an online reporting system as well as a texting line and phone number, so coordinate with your particular school district to find these options.

If you know anyone dealing with this situation don't hesitate to talk with your parents or your teachers to figure out a solution to the problem says Sparks to prevent it becoming an on-going issue.

Also, if you don't feel comfortable doing the above option, certain schools have peer student leader groups you can join and get your voice heard.

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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