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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.
The following types of bullying are the most common among school-age children and adolescents:
  • 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).
  • AA's online reporting form (for both parents and students)
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.
Resolve the conflict, keep the friend - the only person you can control is you.