Uniting As a Community and School Against Bullying
We know that your child’s safety couldn’t be more important to you, so we have been highlighting some of the measures Indian Rocks Christian School takes to create a safe learning environment. In recent articles we’ve written about physical safety and spiritual safety, and now we want to talk a little about emotional safety.
In particular, let’s address the issue of bullying, because it is both a serious issue and one that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. Contrary to what some people might think, bullying is not simply “kids being kids.” Let’s take a deeper look at the issue.
What is Bullying?
One way to define bullying is to say that it is aggressive behavior that does harm through intimidation, coercion, or abuse. It can be physical, verbal, or relational. It can be committed by an individual or a group of individuals. In can happen in person or virtually (cyberbullying).
That’s a general working definition, but what are some examples of bullying behavior?
- Physical bullying can include kicking, hitting, pushing, or throwing things at someone.
- Verbal bullying might look like name-calling, yelling, or denigrating another.
- Relational bullying encompasses shaming, rumor-spreading, embarrassing, or excluding a classmate.
There are three generally agreed upon qualities that differentiate bullying from other kinds of conflict. The behavior must be intentional, repeated, and involve an imbalance of power. By intentional, we mean that the child or adolescent means to do what they do—it is deliberate. Repeated means it happens more than once, and an imbalance of power means that the one (or ones) who behave this way are physically stronger, perhaps older, or have some perceived position of greater social power.
A Biblical Response
This last quality ought to strike a particular nerve in Christians. We may not find the word “bullying” in the Bible, but the Old and New Testaments have much to say about power and what a godly attitude toward others looks like. When it comes down to it, we know from Israel’s history, Christ’s teaching, and the letters of the New Testament that there is always a danger for those who are strong to somehow take advantage of, or do harm to, others.
Our General and Preventative Safeguards Against Bullying
Good emotional health is encouraged through honest communication with teachers and coaches throughout the day and after school. Every teacher is responsible for teaching every child that they are God’s creation and valuable.
Head-on Address to Our Student Body
This year Assistant Superintendent and Middle/High School Principal Perry Banse gave a message in chapel focused on the importance of the decisions we make in relationships. Mr. Banse also directly tackled the issue of using social media and technology inappropriately to address issues like cyberbullying and sexting.
Our Discipline Policy
The Indian Rocks Christian School discipline policy is built on three pillars: Christian character, mutual respect, and common courtesy. It is a 24-hour policy, which means we expect students to adhere to our established guidelines in and out of school. Both the foundations and details of our discipline policy are found in our Elementary Student Handbook and our Middle / High School Student Handbook. Our students are required to treat each other with respect and courtesy. Any behavior, including bullying, that causes another student harm will be investigated and addressed.
Emotional Safety Resources for Students
Teachers They Can Trust
All of the faculty and staff at Indian Rocks Christian School are interviewed, trained and expected to develop genuine, trusting relationships with students. They provide a loving first response to behavior that might require discipline, or to a student that seems to be struggling with relationships, depression, anxiety, and related issues.
Many Layers of Support
Indian Rocks Christian School has a full-time school counselor who is available for students during and after school hours. Our dean of students is also available to help with counseling needs. Affiliated church student pastors have also helped with counseling support on different occasions. If we cannot meet a student’s needs here, our counselor can make good recommendations for outside professional resources in our area.
Our Response to Bullying
At Indian Rocks Christian School we cannot allow bullying in our student body. We recognize our responsibility to care for both sides in situations like these—both those harmed and those doing harm need loving care that intervenes for their good. In all things, we strive to model the love of Christ with our students, and we are deeply committed to open communication with parents about the best ways to care for your child.
Even when a sincere effort is made to be clear and forthright, bullying and conflict are messy issues. Disagreements can be swift and sharp. The faculty and staff at Indian Rocks Christian School simply want to underscore our commitment to caring for your child and for the school community we are responsible for.
If you have any safety concerns or questions, we want to hear from you! Parents, please communicate concerns immediately. Call, send us an email, or come into the school personally. If there is any issue of a disciplinary nature, communicate directly with Joe Frost, our dean of students. He will investigate and implement a plan to deal with the behavior quickly and fairly.