Procedures for Reporting Allegations of Bullying
Please note that after submission of the complaint to the District employee, the District may assign the report to a campus administrator to follow up on the submitted report and any other important matters pertaining to the report. We encourage you to communicate with your designated campus administrator during this time.
- What is Cyberbullying?
- Cyberbullying Tactics
- What To Do When Cyberbullying Occurs?
- Cyberbullying Tips for Parents
- Cyberbullying Tips for Educators
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:
- Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
- SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through devices
- Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messaging features)
It is important to understand how children are cyberbullied so it can be easily recognized and action can be taken. Some of the most common cyberbullying tactics include:
- Posting comments or rumors about someone online that are mean, hurtful, or embarrassing.
- Threatening to hurt someone or telling them to kill themselves.
- Posting a mean or hurtful picture or video.
- Pretending to be someone else online in order to solicit or post personal or false information about someone else.
- Posting mean or hateful names, comments, or content about any race, religion, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics online.
- Creating a mean or hurtful webpage about someone.
- Doxing, an abbreviated form of the word documents, is a form of online harassment used to exact revenge and to threaten and destroy the privacy of individuals by making their personal information public, including addresses, social security, credit card and phone numbers, links to social media accounts, and other private data.
For more examples of cyberbullying tactics, visit stopbullying.gov.
If you notice warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying, take steps to investigate that child’s digital behavior. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying, and adults should take the same approach to address it: support the child being bullied, address the bullying behavior of a participant, and show children that cyberbullying is taken seriously. Because cyberbullying happens online, responding to it requires different approaches. If you think that a child is involved in cyberbullying, there are several things you can do:
- Notice – Recognize if there has been a change in mood or behavior and explore what the cause might be. Try to determine if these changes happen around a child’s use of their digital devices.
- Talk – Ask questions to learn what is happening, how it started, and who is involved.
- Document – Keep a record of what is happening and where. Take screenshots of harmful posts or content if possible. Most laws and policies note that bullying is a repeated behavior, so records help to document it.
- Report – Most social media platforms and schools have clear policies and reporting processes (Tomball ISD Policies). If a classmate is cyberbullying, report it to the school. You can also Anonymous Alerts. If a child has received physical threats, or if a potential crime or illegal behavior is occurring, report it to the police.
- Support – Peers, mentors, and trusted adults can sometimes intervene publicly to positively influence a situation where negative or hurtful content posts about a child. Public Intervention can include posting positive comments about the person targeted with bullying to try to shift the conversation in a positive direction. It can also help to reach out to the child who is bullying and the target of the bullying to express your concern. If possible, try to determine if more professional support is needed for those involved, such as speaking with a guidance counselor or mental health professional.
Having conversations with children about cyberbullying and digital behavior is not a one-time event – it is an ongoing dialogue. Begin talking about these issues before children delve into the world of texting, social media, online gaming, and chat rooms. Help them reflect on real and potential cyberbullying situations, and provide ongoing opportunities to practice ways to respond. Doing so can support the transition from being passive bystanders to being allies who serve as powerful role models for others.
If you think your child is witnessing cyberbullying, there are things that you can encourage them to do - and not do. Such as:
Do not participate. Encourage children not to “like,” share, or comment on information that has been posted about someone, and do not forward a hurtful text to others. Not participating may limit the potential damage of the messages – to others and to themselves.
Do not retaliate or respond negatively. If a child feels that they must respond, encourage a calm, clear, and constructive response. Angry and aggressive reactions can make a bad situation worse. Encourage children (and adults!) to step away from the device so they do not resort to blaming, shaming, or retaliation. This provides time to get calm and centered so they can create a response that makes it clear that others’ digital behaviors are hurtful and unacceptable.
Respond privately to the person who created the hurtful message. If they feel safe doing so, it may be helpful to follow up with the person who created or shared the hurtful message privately, either online, in a phone call, or in person. Doing so can make it clear they do not support the negative actions. It also provides an opportunity to authentically share concerns about the behavior and what might be behind it.
Follow up with the person who was targeted. By reaching out, a child can send a powerful message that they care about the person and they do not support the negative behaviors. If needed, this connection can also provide an opportunity to assist the person in finding help related to the cyberbullying situation.
Noticeable, rapid increases or decreases in device use, including texting.
A child exhibits emotional responses (laughter, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device.
A child hides their screen or device when others are near, and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device.
Social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear.
A child starts to avoid social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past.
A child becomes withdrawn or depressed, or loses interest in people and activities.
- Define Bullying
- Warning Signs
- Effects of Bullying
- Prevent & Understand Bullying
- Lines of Communication
- Model Treatment
Tomball ISD is here to assist with your questions about bullying and harassment. If your student is experiencing behavior at school that you or they might consider to be bullying or harassment, we have outlined the definitions as a tool to help define your student’s situation.
Bullying occurs when someone repeatedly and purposefully says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending him or herself.
Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal, written, graphic and/or physical conduct that is related to one’s gender, age, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity expression, national origin, religion, disability, English language proficiency, socioeconomic status or political beliefs.
For more complete definitions of what constitutes these behaviors, please view Bullying Policies.
Bullying and harassment are taken seriously by Tomball ISD, and will not be tolerated.
There are many warning signs that indicate someone is being affected by bullying – either bullied or bullying others. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying others ask for help.
It is important to talk with children who show signs of being bullied or bullying others.
Warning Signs for Children Who Are Bullied
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
Warning Signs for Children Who Bully Others
- Get into physical or verbal fights
- Have friends who bully others
- Are increasingly aggressive
- Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
- Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
- Blame others for their problems
- Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
- Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity
Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.
Kids Who are Bullied
Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:
- Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
- Health complaints
- Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.
Kids Who Bully Others
Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:
- Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
- Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
- Engage in early sexual activity
- Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
- Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
Kids who witness bullying are more likely to:
- Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
- Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
- Miss or skip school
The Relationship between Bullying and Suicide
Media reports often link bullying with suicide. However, most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors.
Although kids who are bullied are at risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, problems at home, and trauma history. Additionally, specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. This risk can be increased further when these kids are not supported by parents, peers, and schools. Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.
Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help.
Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.
Talk about how to stand up to kids who bully. Give tips, like using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work, like walking away
Talk about strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.
Urge them to help kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.
What was one good thing that happened today? Any bad things?
What is lunch time like at your school? Who do you sit with? What do you talk about?
What is it like to ride the school bus?
What are you good at? What would do you like best about yourself?
What does “bullying” mean to you?
Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
Have you or your friends left other kids out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?
Read class newsletters and school flyers. Talk about them at home.
Check the school website
Go to school events
Greet the bus driver
Meet teachers and counselors at “Back to School” night or reach out by email
Share phone numbers with other kids’ parents
- What Can Schools Do?
- Managing Classrooms to Prevent Bullying
- Supporting Children
- Addressing Bullying Behavior
Consistently enforce the District’s policies against bullying and harassment
- Implement bullying and harassment administrative policies
- Report and investigate all incidents of bullying and harassment
- Establish a culture of inclusion and respect that welcomes all students. Reward students when they show thoughtfulness and respect for peers, adults, and the school. The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Technical Assistance Center can help.
- Make sure students interact safely. Monitor bullying “hot spots” in and around the building. Students may be at higher risk of bullying in settings where there is little or no adult monitoring or supervision, such as bathrooms, playgrounds, and the cafeteria.
- Enlist the help of all school staff. All staff can keep an eye out for bullying. They also help set the tone at school. Teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, office staff, librarians, school nurses, and others see and influence students every day. Messages reach kids best when they come from many different adults who talk about and show respect and inclusion. Train school staff to prevent bullying.
- Set a tone of respect in the classroom. This means managing student behavior in the classroom well. Well-managed classrooms are the least likely to have bullying.
Teachers can consider these ways to promote respect, positive relations, and order that helps prevent bullying in the classroom:
- Create ground rules.
- Develop rules with students so they set their own climate of respect and responsibility.
- Use positive terms, like what to do, rather than what not to do.
- Support school-wide rules.
- Reinforce the rules.
- Be a role model and follow the rules yourself. Show students respect and encourage them to be successful.
- Make expectations clear. Keep your requests simple, direct, and specific.
- Reward good behavior. Try to affirm good behavior four to five times for every one criticism of bad behavior.
- Use one-on-one feedback, and do not publicly reprimand.
- Help students correct their behaviors. Help them understand violating the rules results in consequences: “I know you can stop [negative action] and go back to [positive action]. If you choose to continue, then [consequence].”
Support Kids Who are Bullied
Address Bullying Behavior
Support Bystanders Who Witness Bullying
Ask the child being bullied what can be done to make him or her feel safe. Remember that changes to routine should be minimized. He or she is not at fault and should not be singled out. For example, consider rearranging classroom or bus seating plans for everyone. If bigger moves are necessary, such as switching classrooms or bus routes, the child who is bullied should not be forced to change.
Develop a game plan. Maintain open communication between schools, organizations, and parents. Discuss the steps that are taken and the limitations around what can be done based on policies and laws. Remember, the law does not allow school personnel to discuss discipline, consequences, or services given to other children.
Never tell the child to ignore the bullying.
Do not blame the child for being bullied. Even if he or she provoked the bullying, no one deserves to be bullied.
Do not tell the child to physically fight back against the kid who is bullying. It could get the child hurt, suspended, or expelled.
Parents should resist the urge to contact the other parents involved. It may make matters worse. School or other officials can act as mediators between parents.
Support Bystanders Who Witness Bullying
Even if kids are not bullied or bullying others they can be affected by bullying. Many times, when they see bullying, they may not know what to do to stop it. They may not feel safe stepping in the moment, but there are many other steps they can take.
Credit: Information from www.stopbullying.gov.
Parents, school staff, and organizations all have a role to play.
Make sure the child knows what the problem behavior is. Young people who bully must learn their behavior is wrong and harms others.
Show kids that bullying is taken seriously. Calmly tell the child that bullying will not be tolerated. Model respectful behavior when addressing the problem.
Work with the child to understand some of the reasons he or she bullied. For example:
- Sometimes children bully to fit in. These kids can benefit from participating in positive activities. Involvement in sports and clubs can enable them to take leadership roles and make friends without feeling the need to bully.
- Other times kids act out because something else—issues at home, abuse, stress—is going on in their lives. They also may have been bullied. These kids may be in need of additional support, such as mental health services.
Use consequences to teach. Consequences that involve learning or building empathy can help prevent future bullying. School staff should remember to follow the guidelines in their student code of conduct and other policies in developing consequences and assigning discipline. For example, the child who bullied can:
- Lead a class discussion about how to be a good friend.
- Write a story about the effects of bullying or benefits of teamwork.
- Role-play a scenario or make a presentation about the importance of respecting others, the negative effects of gossip, or how to cooperate.
- Do a project about civil rights and bullying.
- Read a book about bullying.
- Make posters for the school about cyberbullying and being smart online.
Involve the kid who bullied in making amends or repairing the situation. The goal is to help them see how their actions affect others. For example, the child can:
- Write a letter apologizing to the student who was bullied.
- Do a good deed for the person who was bullied or for others in your community.
- Clean up, repair, or pay for any property they damaged.
Avoid strategies that don’t work or have negative consequences.
- Zero tolerance or “three strikes, you’re out” strategies don’t work. Suspending or expelling students who bully does not reduce bullying behavior. Students and teachers may be less likely to report and address bullying if suspension or expulsion is the consequence.
- Conflict resolution and peer mediation don’t work for bullying. Bullying is not a conflict between people of equal power who share equal blame. Facing those who have bullied may further upset kids who have been bullied.
- Group treatment for students who bully doesn’t work. Group members tend to reinforce bullying behavior in each other.
Follow-up. After the bullying issue is resolved, continue finding ways to help the child who bullied to understand how what they do affects other people. For example, praise acts of kindness or talk about what it means to be a good friend.