Bullying Prevention & Resolution
Huntsville City Schools is committed to creating a safe and inclusive school environnment for all students by providing a comprehensive Bullying Prevention Program that aligns with the HCS Strategic Plan. The HCS Policy Manual dictates that students are expected to treat other students with courtesy, respect, and dignity. No student should engage in or be subjected to bullying, harassment, violence, threats of violence, or intimidation by any other student based on any of the specific characteristics that have been identified by the HCS Board of Education. For more information, see the Policy Manual via the link above.
To that end, Huntsville City Schools has adopted a Safe and Inclusive Leaders (SAIL) Committee made up of administrators and counselors from all school levels to implement, review, and oversee bullying prevention and resolution efforts in the district.
Definition & Types of Bullying
Bullying is any intentional and repeated act of unwanted aggressive or demeaning behavior involving a real or perceived power imbalance that takes place on or off school property, in which one or more people intentionally and repeatedly cause physical or psychological harm to another person. To be considered bullying, the conduct must also place a student in reasonable fear of harm or of damage to property, have the effect of substantially interfering with educational performance or school operation, or create a hostile, intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment.
What Exactly Is an Imbalance of Power?
An Imbalance of Power: Students who bully use their power, such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity, to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
Cyber bullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets.
- 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.
- Verbal Bullying
Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
- Inappropriate sexual comments
- Threatening to cause harm
Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone's reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
- Leaving someone out on purpose
- Telling other children not to be friends with someone
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Embarrassing someone in public
- Physical Bullying
Physical bullying involves hurting a person's body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
- Taking or breaking someone's things
Response to Bullying
Step 1 - Ask
Once a potential bullying issue is reported, HCS Staff will determine if the behavior in the report meets the characterstics of bullying as described in the HCS Policy Manual. Namely, they will determine if it represents a pattern of repeated behavior and whether it involves a power imbalance. If it meets the characteristics, the report will move to Step 2. If it does not, normal steps for displine will be followed according to the Behavioral Learning Guide.
Step 2 - Contact
The principal or designee will contact the parents of all students involved.
Please note that, due to FERPA law, principals and other school staff may not be able to communicate any information involving any student other than that parent or guardian's own child.
Step 3 - Counseling
Once bullying has been determined, both the student being bullied and the aggressor will meet separately with the counselor (the aggressor may be subject to discipline measures as well). The counselor will determine if further counseling sessions are needed, including small group counseling.
Step 4 - Support
- Counselors and administrators will implement Restorative Practices with aggressors.
- Students who were the aggressor may be placed on Problem Solving Team for behavior.
- NOVA services will be offered to both the student who was bullied and the aggressor.
Upon receipt of the report/complaint, the principal or the principal's designee will undertake an investigation of the complaint. The investigation will entail the gathering of relevant facts and evidence and will be conducted imparrtially in a reasonably prompt time period, taking into account the circumstances of the complaint. If the investigation establishes a violation, appropriate displinary sanctions will be imposed on the offending student(s).
Upon receipt of the complaint, the school principal will send the parent or guardian a direct written communication to confirm they are investigating the complaint. After the school leadership completes the investigation, the school principal will send written communication with the results of the invetigation. Due to FERPA law, principals and other school staff may not be able to communicate any information involving any student other than that parent or guardian's own child.