Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Internet Safety
District Bullying and Cyberbullying Policy Guidelines
The new state anti-bullying law requires that school districts create bullying prevention plans. The Medford Public Schools Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (PDF) was approved by the Medford School Committee on Monday, December 20, 2010 and was revised in October 2011. The following guidelines were revised in August 2014.
It is the policy of the Medford Public Schools to provide a learning environment that is free from bullying and cyber-bullying (similar policies exist and define sexual harassment and hazing). It is a violation of this policy for any student to engage in bullying or cyber-bullying, or for any employee of the Medford Public Schools to condone or fail to report acts of bullying or cyber-bullying that they witness or become aware of (i) on school grounds and property immediately adjacent to school grounds; (ii) at school-sponsored or school-related activities, functions or programs, whether on or off school grounds; (iii) at school bus stops;(iv) on school buses or other vehicles owned, leased or used by the school district; or (v) through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by the school district.
It is also a violation of this policy for any student to engage in bullying or cyber-bullying at a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related, or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by the school district, if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringes on the rights of the victim at school, or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or orderly operation of the school, as determined by school administrators.
The MPS School District will not tolerate retaliation against a person who reports bullying or cyber-bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying or cyber-bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying or cyber-bullying.
“Bullying” is defined as the repeated use by one or more students or by a member of a school staff including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity or paraprofessional of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at a victim that: (i) causes physical or emotional harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property; (ii) places the victim in reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property; (iii) creates a hostile environment at school for the victim; (iv) infringes on the rights of the victim at school; or (v) materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
“Cyber-bullying” is defined as bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which includes but is not limited to any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by such things as electronic mail, internet communications, instant message, text message or facsimile. Cyber6 bullying includes (i) the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or (ii) the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation is a violation under the law. Cyber-bullying also includes the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting is a violation of the law.
Medford Public Schools recognizes that certain students may be more vulnerable to becoming a target of bullying or harassment based on actual or perceived differentiating characteristics, including race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, socioeconomic status, homelessness, academic status, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, pregnant or parenting status, sexual orientation, mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability or by association with a person who has or is perceived to have 1 or more of these characteristics. Medford has taken steps to support vulnerable students and to provide all students with the skills, knowledge and strategies needed to prevent or respond to bullying or harassment. These supports include, but are not limited to adoption of Bullying Prevention curriculum, implementation of Social-Emotional-Learning standards, social skills training, counseling services, and development of community partnerships.
It is the responsibility of every student, parent and employee of the school district to recognize acts of bullying, cyber-bullying and retaliation. Any student who believes that he or she has been the victim of bullying, cyber-bullying or retaliation should report it immediately to his or her teacher or principal. Students, parents and members of the school staff ( including but not limited to educators, administrators, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, coaches, advisors, advisors to an extracurricular activity, or paraprofessionals), who witness or become aware of bullying cyber-bullying or retaliation should immediately report it to the principal.
Reports of bullying or cyber-bullying will be promptly investigated. If the school principal or a designee determines that bullying or retaliation has occurred, the school principal or designee will (i) notify the police if the principal or designee believes that criminal charges may be pursued against the perpetrator; (ii) take appropriate disciplinary action; (iii) notify the parents or guardians of the perpetrator; and (iv) notify the parents or guardians of the victim, and to the extent consistent with state and federal law, notify them of the action taken to prevent any further acts of bullying or retaliation.
The School district will provide age-appropriate instruction on bullying prevention and provide professional development to build the skills of staff members, as required by law. (see chart below) The Superintendent will develop a Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan which shall sets forth the administrative guidelines and procedures for the implementation of this policy. Such Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan shall include, but not be limited to: procedures for reporting, responding to and investigating reports of bullying or retaliation; the range of disciplinary actions that may be taken against a perpetrator for bullying or retaliation or against someone for making a false accusation of bullying; procedures for remedying incidents of bullying and restoring a sense of safety for a victim and assessing that victim’s needs for protection; strategies for protecting from bullying or retaliation a person who reports bullying or provides information during an investigation; any notification requirements consistent with state and federal law; a strategy for providing counseling or referral to appropriate services for perpetrators, victims and family members; and provisions for educating and informing parents about bullying and the School District’s bullying prevention curriculum.
Students and parents or guardians will receive notice of the relevant student-related section of the Plan annually and faculty and staff at each school shall be trained annually on the plan applicable to the school. (see chart below) Each building principal shall be responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Plan at his or her school. The building principal or designee shall assist students, parents, and employees of the School District who seek guidance or support in addressing matters relating to any form of bullying, cyber-bullying or retaliation.
Any student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying or retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to reprimand, detention, loss of privileges, and/or suspension. An educational component will be part of the actions taken. If the false accusations have civil and/or criminal elements then further actions may be taken by appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Any staff member, parent, and/or community member who knowingly engage in false accusations will be subject to appropriate consequences administered by the school system and/or law enforcement agencies. Complaints of bullying or retaliation may be made anonymously; however, no disciplinary action shall be taken against a student, staff member, parent, or community member solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
The Medford Public Schools has compiled a guide with information about cyberbullying, keeping your children safe online, and social networking sites:
- Resources on Bullying Prevention for Parents– Information from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- GetNetWise.org– Information about keeping kids safe online
- Keeping Young People Safe– Tips from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
- Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center– Bullying and cyberbullying resources for parents
- Middlesex Partnerships for Youth– Intervention and prevention resources for bullying, violence, substance abuse, and other issues