BULLYING AND HARASSMENT POLICY FOR STUDENTS
As Christians, we believe that all persons are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth. Additionally, federal and New Jersey state law prohibits racial, ethnic, religious, age, or sexual harassment of any student or employee; the courts also hold schools responsible for taking appropriate action to address bullying/harassing behaviors that interfere with a student’s educational process.
The New Jersey HIB (Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying) Law states: “Harassment, intimidation and bullying” means any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property, at any school sponsored function, on a school bus, or off school grounds, that substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of the other students and that a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect or physically or emotionally harming a student or damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his\her person or damage to his\her property; has the effect of insulting or demeaning any student or group of students, creates a hostile educational environment for the student by interfering with a student’s education or by severely or pervasively causing physical or emotional harm to the student.”
Accordingly, and in faithfulness to its mission, Immaculate Heart Academy does not tolerate any form of bullying, harassment, disruption of the educational process, or interference with another’s educational or work environment, or which creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile educational or work environment.
All students and employees are to be treated with dignity and respect. Bullying or harassment of another person of either gender in any form is prohibited. The prohibition against bullying and harassment applies to all students, employees, and volunteers in the school building, on school property, or at any time while representing the school.
Immaculate Heart Academy is committed to a “zero indifference” approach which means that any and all witnessed or reported incidents of bullying or harassment will be addressed appropriately, which may include conferences with students and parents, conducting an investigation, the requirement of outside counseling, and taking disciplinary action as warranted by the severity of the situation. The peer mentors and guidance counselors will speak to all students at the beginning of each school year and encourage them to report any incidents of harassment intimidation or bullying of any kind.
Prohibited bullying and harassment are defined as, but not limited to, the following behaviors:
Verbal bullying/harassment: includes, but is not limited to, the following, whether in oral or written form:
- derogatory comments, jokes, slurs, off-color language, or innuendoes;
- belligerent or threatening words communicated to another student or employee;
- name-calling, sarcasm and put-downs, mocking, belittling, hurtful teasing, or taunting.
Social/relational bullying/harassment: is defined as the systemic diminishment of another’s sense of self and/or damaging the social status, relationships, or reputation of another through:
- ignoring, isolating, excluding, or shunning;
- a pattern of behavior in which a student or a group of students picks on another student or treats
- her in such a way that makes her feel uncomfortable or alienated;
- spreading false and/or malicious rumors;
- gossiping or revealing personal information;
- embarrassing or publicly humiliating another.
Sexual harassment/bullying: unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
- submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s educational development, participation in a school-related activity, or employment; or
- submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for educational or employment decisions affecting such individual; or
- such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s school or work performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive school or work environment
- sexual harassment/bullying may also include spreading sexual rumors or making sexually suggestive or sexually abusive remarks.
Cyber bullying/harassment: includes, but is not limited to, offending, harassing, or threatening others through technological means, including e-mail, instant messages, web pages, blogs, video and digital photo images, and/or text messages; it is considered inappropriate speech when it involves:
- obscene, profane, lewd, vulgar, rude, inflammatory, threatening, or disrespectful messages;
- posting information that could cause damage, danger, or disruption of the educational process;
- making a personal attack, including prejudicial or discriminatory attacks;
- knowingly or recklessly posting false or defamatory information about a person;
- using technological communication to intimidate, bully, harass, or embarrass others in any area included in this policy.
Please note: Students’ home and personal use of technology can have an impact on the school and other students. If a student’s personal expression involving technology—such as a threatening message to another student or a violent web site—creates a likelihood of disruption of the educational process, the student may face school discipline as well as criminal penalties. The courts have ruled, in fact, that the school has not only an ethical obligation but also a legal obligation to take action in these situations.
Physical bullying/harassment: includes unwanted physical touching or contact (such as shoving, pushing, bumping, hitting or slapping, tripping, poking, kicking, scratching), assault, deliberate impeding or blocking movement, or any intimidating interference with normal movement or work; it may also include damaging or destroying another’s belongings or property; it also includes physical acts that are demeaning and humiliating but not bodily harmful.
Visual bullying/harassment: includes derogatory, demeaning, or inflammatory posters or locker signs, cartoons, written words, drawings, video or photographic images, novelties, or gestures (including subtle gestures such as aggressive stares, eye rolling, sighs, frowns, sneers, snickers, and/or hostile body language).
Retaliation: includes intimidation, coercion, discrimination, or retaliation in any form against an individual who reports or threatens to report harassment, or who testifies, assists, or participates in any manner in an investigation.
DISRUPTION OF THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS
Behavior that disrupts the educational process, whether on school property or at school-sponsored events and activities, will not be tolerated and will subject the offending student to appropriate disciplinary action.
Behavior which disrupts the educational process includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- behavior which threatens the health, safety, or welfare of others;
- behavior which may damage public or private property, including the property of students or faculty/staff;
- illegal activity;
- behavior that interferes with another student’s access to educational opportunities or programs, including the ability to attend, participate in, and benefit from instructional and extracurricular activities; or
- behavior that disrupts the delivery of instructional services or interferes with the orderly administration of the school and school-related activities.
A student who feels that she is a victim of bullying/harassment is encouraged to confront the offender and clearly state that the behavior or conduct is offensive and needs to stop. Doing nothing, saying nothing, or trying to ignore the behavior of someone who is bullying or harassing is almost never interpreted by the perpetrator as a sign that the student wants her/him to stop. If the bullying/harassment continues, or if the student is not comfortable confronting the perpetrator, she has a responsibility to report the bullying/harassment as soon as possible to the assistant principal of students or a guidance counselor.
Counselors who receive such reports will pass them on immediately to the assistant principal of students. All acts of HIB will be reported verbally to the principal on the same day when the assistant principal receives reliable information regarding any such incident. Reports of bullying/ harassment will be documented in writing by the assistant principal of students and will include details of the incident(s), names of the individuals involved, and names of any witnesses. Victims and witnesses may obtain a form to report a HIB incident on the school web site under the Anti-Bullying Policy. All acts of HIB shall be reported to the principal in writing within two school days. Any school employee observing or having direct knowledge from a participant or victim of an act of violence shall file a report describing the incident to the administration.
Any student who is not directly being bullied/harassed, but is an observer or third party who is offended by the behavior witnessed, should bring the situation to the attention of the asst. principal or a guidance counselor and report dangerous behaviors and/or situations to appropriate school personnel.
Immaculate Heart Academy follows a “zero indifference” approach which in turn requires all staff to respond to all instances of bullying or harassment of which they are aware. The administration will take every report of bullying/harassment seriously. All reports of bullying/harassment will be investigated fully and appropriately by the asst. principal or vice-principal promptly in an impartial and confidential a manner as possible.
If the school determines that bullying/harassment has occurred, effective remedial action will be taken in accordance with the circumstances involved. Any student determined by the administration to be responsible for bullying/harassment will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion. If a student or her parents feel that a report of bullying/harassment has not been addressed properly or resolved to her/their satisfaction, she/they may bring the matter to the direct attention of the principal.
For unsubstantiated incidents, parents of all involved students will be notified of allegations, investigation results, and recommended follow-up action. Counseling through the Immaculate Heart Academy Guidance Department will be offered to any alleged perpetrator and victim. No student will be subjected to disciplinary or academic action in retaliation for any good faith report of bullying/harassment or participating in an investigation about bullying/harassment under this policy.
For substantiated incidents, appropriate disciplinary consequences will be applied to the offending student. Parents of all involved students will be notified of the incident(s), results, and school follow-up actions; if the bullying/harassment involves physical assault and/or threats or gestures to cause life-threatening harm to another person, law enforcement authorities will be notified of the incident for possible criminal investigation. Offenders, if allowed to remain in the Immaculate Heart Academy community, will be required to participate in a minimum number (as determined by the administration) of counseling sessions with a guidance counselor; if the guidance counselor recommends outside assessment or work with an outside mental health professional, this must be pursued and will be the financial responsibility of the harasser and her parents.