You may be able to tell by the details of the treatment to which she is being subjected or the impact on her. A behavior goes beyond teasing between friends and becomes illegal bullying when the following are present:
- There is a relationship between the bully and your child;
- The balance of power in this relationship is in favor of the bully. This imbalance may be real such as the relationship between a teacher and a student, or it is perceived such as when your child sees the bully as having more power;
- The bullying behavior happens, or can happen, more than once.
Bullying includes a broad range of behaviors from obvious and blatant to covert and subtle. It can involve physical acts, but it may also be verbal such as threats; emotional, such as withdrawing attention; and social, such as excluding someone from an activity or destroying someone’s reputation. Increasingly, bullying is taking place in the form of cyber-bullying on cell phones, through emails or social media, and can include offensive text messages, rumors posted on social media or fake online profiles. [Dear Colleagues Letter, 61 IDELR 263 (OSERS/OSEP 2013).]
The child who is bullied is likely to show the impact in a variety of ways including:
- Lower academic achievement and aspirations;
- Higher truancy rates;
- Feelings of alienation from school;
- Poor relationships with peers;
- Loneliness; or
If your child is showing these symptoms, you should look into what is going on between her and other students or staff in school. Some children, due to different factors including their disability, may not be able to report the aggression they are experiencing. It is critical that you and the school staff assist in alerting the school of any incident that may raise the suspicion of bullying.
If your child has been bullied or harassed at school, you may also file a complaint with the California Department of Education (CDE) against your school district. See Chapter 6, Information on Due Process/Compliance Procedures.]