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Bullying & Cyber-Bullying

NH laws address bullying and cyber-bullying in schools.
In compliance with RSA 193-F:6,II, below is the Department’s Annual Report of Substantiated Incidences. The report includes the number and type of incidents broken down by Elementary, Middle School and High School.

What is the NH Bullying Law?

The Public Safety & Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (amended 2010) is RSA-F of NH Title XV Education Law. This act as amended in 2010 reaffirms that "one of the legislature's highest priorities is to protect our children from physical, emotional, and psychological violence by addressing the harm caused by bullying and cyber-bullying in our public schools" (RSA 193-F:2).

What is the purpose and intent of the law? All pupils have the right to attend public schools, including chartered public schools, that are safe, secure, and peaceful environments. The highest priority is to protect our children from physical, emotional, and psychological violence by addressing the harm caused by bullying and cyber-bullying in public schools. Bullying in schools includes actions shown to be motivated by a pupil's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical, mental, emotional or learning disability, gender, gender identity and gender expression, obesity or other distinguishing characteristics, or based on association with any person identified in any of the above categories. The purpose of the law is to protect our children from bullying related to the characteristics above and to prevent the creation of a hostile educational environment.

How does this law define "bullying" and "cyber-bullying"? Bullying is defined as a single significant incident, or a pattern of incidents involving written, verbal or electronic communication, or physical or a physical act or gesture directed at another student which:

  • Physically harms a pupil or damages the pupil's property
  • Interferes with a pupils educational opportunities
  • Causes emotional distress to a pupil
  • Creates a hostile educational environment

or

  • Substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school

Bullying includes actions motivated by an imbalance of power based on a pupil's actual or perceived personal characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs, or motivated by the pupil's association with another person and based on the other person's characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs.

Cyber-bullying is conduct defines as bullying (above) that is undertaken through the use of electronic devices including telephones, cell phones, computers, pagers, email, instant messaging, text messaging, and websites/social media sites.

What other terms associated with bullying are defined by the law?

The law defines perpetrator as a pupil who engages in bullying and/or cyber-bullying.

It defines school property as all real property and all physical plan and equipment used for school purposes, including public and/or private school buses and vans.

Victim is defined as a pupil against whom bullying or cyber-bullying has been  perpetrated.

What constitutes an act of bullying? Bullying or cyber-bullying is said to occur when an action or communication of bullying as defined above:

Occurs on, or is delivered to school property or a school sponsored activity or event on or off school property.

Occurs off school property or outside of a school-sponsored activity or event in the conduct interferes with a pupil's educational opportunities or substantially disrupts the orderly operations of the school or school-sponsored activity or event.

What are school boards of public schools and boards of trustees of charter schools required to include in the bullying policies that they have adopted? RSA 193-F:4 requires that all school boards and boards of trustees of charter schools shall adopt a written prohibiting cyber-bullying. The written policy prohibiting bullying and cyber-bullying should acknowledge that bullying and cyber-bullying can occur both in the school setting and out of school if it interferes with a student's educational opportunities or disrupts a school day or event.

Since January 1, 2011, all public schools and charter schools have been required to have a written policy in place and to have it displayed in a public and accessible setting. The written policy must, at a minimum address the fourteen issues included on the Bullying Policy Checklist. Please refer to this checklist to determine whether your policy contains all the required components.

What are the training and assessment requirements for NH school districts and charter schools? Each school district and charter school shall provide training on policies adopted annually for school employees, regular school volunteers or employees of a company under contract to a school, school district or charter school who have significant contact with pupils for the purpose of preventing, identifying, responding to and reporting incidences of bullying and cyber-bullying. Additionally, they shall provide educational programs for pupils and parents in preventing, identifying and responding to incidences of bullying or cyber-bullying. Programs for pupils must be written and presented in age appropriate language.

Nothing shall require the inclusion of any specific curriculum, textbook or other material designed to prevent bullying or cyber-bullying in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution. The DOE shall provide evidence-based educational programs to support training.

What are the reporting requirements if each school district and charter school? There is an annual duty for each school district and charter school to report substantiated incidences of bullying and cyber-bullying to the DOE. Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) such reports shall not contain any personally identifiable information pertaining to any pupil. The DOE collects this data in the annual School Safety Survey, then prepares an annual report to include the number and types of such incidences in the schools and submits this report to the president of the NH Senate, the NH Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chairpersons of the NH House and Senate education committees.

Are public academies in New Hampshire required to follow these provisions? Yes, per RSA 193-F:10, the provisions of this chapter shall apply to public academies as defined in RSA 194:23

 

Information for NH Schools

Data concerning restraints and seclusions, harassment, bullying, student discipline, school safety and truancy can be found on the School Safety Data Collection page. In furtherance of its responsibilities as outlined in RSA 193-F:6,II, the Department of Education assists the school districts with recommended actions to address identified problems with pupil safety and violence prevention by responding to and assisting constituents and school districts regarding alleged bullying and cyberbullying incidents at the school district level.

The Bureau of Student Wellness, Office of Social and Emotional Wellness, provides technical assistance and resources to New Hampshire schools to support prevention efforts, including in the areas of bullying and violence. BSW-OSEW offers trainings, technical assistance and tools for schools/districts to use to plan and implement a student wellness initiative that promotes a positive school climate and culture. Current efforts are underway to expand bullying prevention technical assistance offerings to include: bullying policy monitoring and best practices; data analysis on bullying statistics, bullying prevention strategic planning and restorative practices to support the victims and the offenders of bullying; and educational opportunities and support for families.

Additionally, the Governor's Office and the Department of Education are working with the Jesse Lewis ChooSELove Movement to make New Hampshire's schools safer by expanding social and emotional learning (SEL) programs in schools at all levels statewide. This powerful program changes school culture and climate and creates healthier communities. It is a omprehensive lifespan program including: Infant/Toddler, Grades PreK- Grade 12, a Home program, Community program, and an Athletes/Coaches program as well. In order to overcome obstacles preventing schools, families and communities from being able to access a comprehensive SEL program, which teaches how to have healthy and positive relationships; how to manage emotions; how to be resilient; and how to make responsible decisions, it has been made available at no cost. Additionally, presentations and workshops are provided state-wide as well as support/collaboration for best implementation practice to meet the needs of each district.

The Department of Education was contacted 62 times by constituents regarding alleged bullying and cyberbullying complaints from July 2018 to June 2019. Each time constituents contacted the Department of Education regarding an alleged bullying or cyberbullying complaint, the Department worked with the local school district in question to provide technical assistance.

Student Assistance Program (SAP) - NH SAP counselors served more than 10,000 kids in 2016, helping youth with various social issues, such as bullying, dating violence, and peer pressure. The program has grown from five schools in 2013 to more than 40 today.

FindYouthInfo.gov is the U.S. government website that helps you create, maintain, and strengthen effective youth programs. Through the Youth Topics series, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs provides information, strategies, tools, and resources for youth, families, schools and community organizations related to a variety of cross-cutting topics that affect youth.

TIGER (Theater Integrating Guidance, Education, and Responsibility) at Plymouth State University is a non-profit professional educational theatre company designed to help children, schools, parents, and communities deal proactively and positively with social issues and concerns facing children in schools today, including bullying. TIGER offers performances for grades K-8 in schools throughout New England as well as student and teacher workshops. Contact Trish Lindberg, Artistic Director at plindber@plymouth.edu or Pam Irish, Tour Manager at pmirish@plymouth.edu.

In September 2010, the It Gets Better Project was founded when the original it gets better video was created and posted to YouTube. Jeremy GT Reuschling found out about this cause and wanted to be a part of it. View Jeremy's video on YouTube.

Resources for Schools

Disclaimer: The NH Department of Education provides links as a service to educators and others seeking useful information relating to education. Some sites offer information free of charge; others charge a fee. The New Hampshire Department of Education takes no responsibility for the content, quality, or cost of materials available through any outside site.

There are a number of ways parents, teachers, and caregivers can help combat bullying, which is especially important for kids with cerebral palsy, who may not be able to properly defend themselves. A 2010 study provided by Gate Path, a non-profit organization, indicated that although bullying disabled children typically starts out just like bullying anyone else, the impact is far more severe.

To report a bullying incident:

Stephen W. F. Berwick
Coordinator, Dispute Resolution, and Constituent Complaints
(603) 271-2299
Stephen.Berwick@doe.nh.gov