Students who come to any BUSD staff member with a complaint will be listened to and supported with a plan for safety and next steps. We encourage students to report issues and concerns to the administration or to trusted adults so that we can support all students.
The Governing Board of the Berkeley Unified School District affirms that every student and staff member has the right to a safe and secure school environment, free of humiliation, intimidation, fear, harassment, or any form of bullying behavior. Furthermore, the Board believes that a healthy, positive psychosocial school environment enhances and in-creases academic achievement and pro-social development (BP 5030.2), and therefore the prevention, [reduction/elimination], and effective disposition of bullying are fundamental to Berkeley’s educational goals.
The District, students, families, and staff have an obligation to create an environment that celebrates and respects diversity and human dignity and admonishes bullying behavior. To this end, the District has in place policies, procedures, and practices that are designed to reduce and eliminate bullying and harassment as well as address incidents of bullying and harassment when they occur.
The District will not tolerate bullying or any behavior that infringes on the safety or well-being of students, staff, or any other persons within the District’s jurisdiction whether directed at an individual or group.
District policies related to bullying and harassment are available here.
Bullying means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or con-duct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, that inflicts physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students or employees. It is further defined as: unwanted purposeful written, verbal, nonverbal, or physical behavior, including but not limited to any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, by an adult or student, that has the potential to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment or cause long term damage; cause discomfort or humiliation; or unreasonably interfere with the victim’s school performance or participation. Bullying is often characterized by an imbalance of power.
Indicators of Bullying Behavior
Bullying behaviors may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Verbal: Hurtful name-calling, teasing, gossiping, making threats, making slurs or epithets, making rude noises, or spreading hurtful rumors. This policy excludes constitutionally protected speech (Education Code 48950). Speech that poses a threat or danger to the safety of students, employees or District property, or that materially and substantially disrupts the school environment, is not constitutionally protected.
- Nonverbal: Posturing, making gang signs, leering, staring, stalking, destroying property, insulting or threatening notes, using graffiti or graphic images, or exhibiting inappropriate and/or threatening gestures or actions.
- Physical: Hitting, punching, pushing, shoving, poking, kicking, trip-ping, strangling, hair pulling, fighting, beating, “pantsing”, pinching, slapping, biting, spitting, or destroying property.
- Emotional (Psychological): Rejecting, terrorizing, extorting, defaming, intimidating, humiliating, blackmailing, manipulating friendships, isolating, shunning, ostracizing, using peer pressure, or rating or ranking personal characteristics.
- Hazing: ritualistic behavior that subjects persons to intentionally mean-spirited, physically or psychologically abusive, or humiliating tasks as a rite of passage or initiation.
Cyberbullying and Sexting
- Cyberbullying: Bullying committed by means of an electronic act, the transmission of a communication, including but not limited to, a message, text, sound, or image by means of an electronic device, including but limited to, a computer phone, wireless telephone, or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager.
- Cyberbullying is characterized by deliberately threatening, harass-ing, intimidating, or in any way, ridiculing an individual or group of individuals; placing an individual in reasonable fear of harm; posting sensitive, private information about another person without his/her permission; breaking into another person’s account and/or assuming another individual’s identity in order to damage that person’s reputation or friendships.
- Texting and social media are too easily used to bully and harass, and “joking” posts can be taken very seriously. The words or images you use can also be shared and cause further harm to others and to yourself by spreading gossip, which can lead to taking sides and retaliatory behaviors.
- Sexting (sending sexually explicit photos or text), or electronic postings with sexual overtones on social media may also be harassment.
Harassment can include hate speech, shaming, name calling, threats, and other forms of intimidation.
Shaming, Name-Calling and Hate Speech are all Bullying Behaviors. Students can be disciplined for speech that is bullying, harassment, or a violation of anti-discrimination policies. Hate speech is insulting or threatening language that targets people based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. Calling someone a “sexist pig” or a “creep” based on gossip you heard from others can be a form of bullying.
Rumors aren’t Facts and Gossip Can be Destructive. Sometimes people misunderstand or mis-hear a story, or they don’t know the entire context. Sometimes people intentionally exaggerate or even lie. Just because you’ve heard a widespread rumor doesn’t mean it’s true. Repeating information you have heard from others may cause additional harm, including retaliation based on rumors.
Retaliation Is Prohibited. Retaliation is when someone feels entitled to make another person ‘pay’ for their behavior. Retaliation can include glaring, being rude, making snide remarks or threats, refusing to sit next to somebody, or spreading gossip or asking your friends to do this. Calling someone a “snitch” in order to make them less likely to report problems in the future, or posting things on social media that are meant to threaten or intimidate. We take retaliation very seriously, as it means that a harm that has already happened is made larger.
Title IX/Sexual Harassment Prevention Resources
The Berkeley High School is committed to provide an educational environment free of unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature including sexual advances, requests for sexual favor, and other verbal or physical conduct or communications constituting sexual harassment, as defined and otherwise prohibited by state and federal law.
Please visit this webpage for complete information on sexual harassment prevention and reporting procedures.
Important Reminders Regarding Sexual Harassment and Bullying from BHS Administration, Dec. 2016
Equal Rights Advocates: www.equalrights.org
Feminist Majority Foundation: www.feminist.org
How to talk to your children about healthy and safe relationships: http://startstrong.futureswithoutviolence.org/learn-more/case-studies/austin/build-trust-with-parents/
National Women’s Law Center: www.nwlc.org
Office for Civil Rights: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/sexharassresources.html
Title IX: www.titleIX.info