As the 2012/2013 school year begins, it is important for parents to be aware of the Broward County School District’s strict Anti-Bullying Policy. The policy prohibits bullying of, or by, any district student or employee. Since knowledge is power, it is vital that parents become familiar with the policy, which is sent home with every Broward County student the first week of school for parental and student review.
Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength. A child who is being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. Usually, bullying is repeated over time. Bullying can take many forms such as physical, verbal, emotional and cyber-bullying. There are signs you can look for to know if your child is being bullied:
- torn clothes
- loss of appetite
- mood changes
- reluctance to go to school
- bruises or injuries that can’t be explained.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, it is important to talk with your child, be supportive and gather information about the bullying. All suspected bullying should be reported to your child’s school.
Face-to-face bullying isn’t the only way children can be victimized. Many children and young adults are using their computers and cell phones to send or post texts or images intended to hurt or embarrass their classmates. This includes sending mean, vulgar or threatening messages and images, posting sensitive or private information about another person, or pretending to be someone else in order to make that person look bad. Children and teens can cyber-bully each other through e-mails, instant messaging, text messages, web pages, blogs or chat rooms. If your child is a victim of such bullying:
- encourage your child not to respond to cyber-bullying
- do not erase the messages or pictures (save these as evidence)
- try to identify the individual doing the cyber-bullying
- consider filing a complaint with your service provider to block the sender
- contact your child’s school
- contact law enforcement if cyber-bullying involves acts such as threats of violence, extortion, obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages, stalking, hate crimes or child pornography.
I encourage all parents to talk to their children about what it means to hurt another person physically or verbally. The Broward Sheriff’s Office is working with the Broward County School Board on an educational curriculum called ThinkB4UPost to be launched during Red Ribbon Week in October. This is a direct message from school officials and law enforcement to children and young adults about the consequences of cyber-bullying.
With the help and guidance of law enforcement, parents, caregivers and teachers, I am confident we can put an end to bullying!
Sheriff Al Lamberti