The definition of bullying in the state of Texas is as follows:
“Bullying" means engaging in written or verbal expression, expression
through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on
school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or
in a vehicle operated by the District and that:
1. Has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a
student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student
in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage
to the student’s property; or
2. Is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that
the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or
abusive educational environment for a student.
This conduct is considered bullying if it:
1. Exploits an imbalance of power between the student perpetrator
and the student victim through written or verbal expression
or physical conduct; and
2. Interferes with a student’s education or substantially disrupts
the operation of a school.
Rod Pruitt of Region 14 has worked to prevent bullying for two decades and says that some aspects of the issue have changed over time. "Its subtle...that's what we are seeing now. The overt 'I am going to beat you up if you don't give me your lunch money' -you don't see that as much" explains Pruitt.
Pruitt explains that bullying is more about social manipulation now, and a lot of bullying occurs online. Despite those changes, Pruitt says bullying at a young age is still used as a predictor for future actions.
"Well research shows that if a bully is truly a bully- not just rude or mean- but bullying, at age twelve they are five times more likely to be incarcerated by age twenty-four."
Michael Newton has been an Abilene educator for almost thirty-eight years now and says that children are more aware of what bullying is now. "We have educated them on how to combat bullying and to not get bullied and I think that they do have a greater awareness then I say I did when I was in the fourth grade" explains Newton.
Schools certainly have initiatives in place to prevent bullying, but school officials encourage parents to speak with their children about the issue as well.
For more information on bullying, check out the links below.