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American Academy

About Bullying

Definition: American Academy’s definition of bullying is unwanted, aggressive, and intimidating behavior, repeated over time that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.
Bullying behaviors may be persistently directed at the target based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, physical appearance, sex, or other distinguishing characteristics (NASP Position Statement: Bullying Prevention and Intervention Among School-Age Youth, 2019).
The following types of bullying are the most common among school-age children and adolescents (Wang et al., 2012):
  • Physical—includes hitting kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting, other physical aggression, and damage to or theft of someone else’s belongings.
  • Verbal—includes name-calling; insults; racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes, remarks, or teasing; use of sexually suggestive or abusive language; threats of violence; and offensive remarks.
  • Relational/social—includes spreading untrue stories about someone, excluding someone from social groups (social isolation), and being made the subject of malicious rumors.
  • Cyberbullying—covers any type of bullying that is carried out via an electronic medium such as text messaging, cell phone calls, pictures or video clips via mobile devices, email, chat rooms, social networking sites and apps, and other websites.


Or is it rude behavior, a mean moment, or conflict that can be resolved? Before reporting a  bullying incident, read the definitions of behavior below to understand first what bullying is and is not.

RUDE: Accidentally or unintentionally saying or doing something that hurts feelings or embarrasses someone
MEAN: Saying or doing something on purpose to hurt someone; happens once or twice
CONFLICT: Conflict is a disagreement between friends or peers who are equal in power. There is always a solution to work through conflict, although it can take practice and isn’t always easy!
BULLYING: Behavior that is unwanted, intentional (done on purpose), aggressive, and intimidating, is repeated over time, and involves an imbalance of power (*power = older, bigger, stronger, social power). Types of bullying include physical, verbal, relational, and cyber-bullying.

When students and adults can correctly identify a behavior, then they can use the appropriate tools to handle the situation. Encouraging resiliency and empathy are cornerstones of how parents can help students learn to cope with conflict.

Conflict Resolution Tools & Resources: 

Conflict is often labeled or misunderstood as bullying. Conflict is a natural part of life and a natural part of friendships. Students need the skills to deal with conflict in a safe and reasonable way. American Academy students are taught that there are at least six ways to handle conflict, through classroom guidance lessons and with visuals aids around school. You can download a copy of our American Academy Conflict Resolution poster from the link on the right and keep these guidelines handy at home.


HA-HA-SO for Bullying

Teaching our students to be “up-standers” and support a classmate is the best way to help in a bullying situation. When a student feels they are being bullied, they can use HA-HA-SO to help themselves:
HELP: Ask friends, teachers, staff, and parents for help. Lots of people care about you and want you to feel safe!
ASSERT YOURSELF: Use "I" statements in a calm voice, for example: "I don't like it when you pull on my backpack and I want you to stop." Walk away.
HUMOR: Use humor in a positive way. Make a joke about what was said, not who said it. Example: When teased about hairstyle, say "I didn't know you cared enough to notice."
AVOID: Stay away from kids who are mean and join with others rather than being alone.
SELF-TALK: Think positive statements about yourself and your accomplishments. Example: "I know I'm kind and smart."
OWN IT: Say you agree and walk away or combine with an assertive statement. For example, "Yes, I did fail the test and I don't appreciate you looking at my paper."


If you've been, or know someone else who has been, a target of bullying behavior that is unwanted, intentional (done on purpose), aggressive, and intimidating, is repeated over time, and involves an imbalance of power, make a bullying incident report using the link below (can be made anonymously).
Other Ways to Report Bullying:
  • Drop note into the Counselor's Mailbox. Each counselor has a locked mailbox outside their office. 
  • Tell a teacher, dean, IA, principal, or any other AA staff member. 
  • Drop a note into a reporting box in the front office



When a student (or staff member) is sexually harassed, local, state, and federal law (commonly referred to as "Title IX") and American Academy policy include certain processes and protections that American Academy (AA) generally follows and imposes. 


Gender-based discrimination and harassment prohibited by Title IX means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:

  1. An employee of the District conditions the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the District on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;
  2. Sexual Harassment: unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the District’s education program or activity;
  3. “Sexual assault” as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), “dating violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), “domestic violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or “stalking” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30).


Any parent who believes their child has experienced harassment should click here to find more general information, the policy we follow, and how they may file a Title IX complaint. You may also e-mail Steve Colella, AA's Title IX compliance officer.    


American Academy will promptly respond to all allegations of sexual harassment that occur in American Academy's education program or activity. All reports and written reports of sexual harassment from students, employees, and third parties should be immediately forwarded to AA's Title IX compliance officer. Upon receipt, the Title IX compliance officer will follow up consistent with the policy we follow.


American Academy staff undergoes annual Title IX training. If you're interested, you can find that training here.


For additional information on DCSD Title IX, please follow this link.


Resolve the conflict, keep the friend - the only person you can control is you.