October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we want to remind our community that the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) is committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for all students. Preventing bullying is an important part of this goal. HCPSS Policy 9460 states that bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and intimidation are prohibited in HCPSS. The Bullying, Cyrberbullying, Harassment, or Intimidication (BCHI) Reporting Form should be used to report all alleged incidents of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and intimidation that occur at school or have a connection back to the school setting that create a risk of harm to other students while they are at school, or interfere with the educational environment. An online version is available and can easily and confidentially be used by students, staff, and family members. Hard copies of this form are available in the main office, staff workroom, school counseling office, media center, and health services office. If you believe that a student has been bullied, please complete and submit this form as soon as possible.
Once the form is submitted, school administrators will ensure the parent/guardian of both the alleged target and alleged offender are aware of the report and will begin an investigation within two school days of receiving the report. Parents/guardians can expect a school administrator to reach out to them during the investigation. Once the investigation is completed, parents/guardians will be provided written notice of the outcome of the investigation within fifteen days of receiving the complaint, excluding extenuating circumstances.
Cyberbullying is bullying using electronic media like computers, cell phones, and game systems. Our digital interconnectedness makes bullying different and more damaging than it’s ever been before. It allows hatred and publicly humiliating gossip or photos to be instantly far-reaching and inescapable as electronic media is everywhere. It can NOT simply be ignored. In October 2013, the State of Maryland enacted Grace’s Law, making misuse of interactive computer services a criminal offense. Its purpose is to prohibit anyone from using electronic media (computers, tablets, phones, etc.) to maliciously engage in conduct that inflicts serious emotional distress on a minor and/or places that minor in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury. A person who is found guilty of violating this law is subject to imprisonment and/or fines. While this will be reviewed with students at school, we are asking you to do the same at home. Thank you for your partnership.
More information can be found on the HCPSS Stop Bullying website. If you have any questions regarding this policy or its implementation, please contact a school administrator.