The definition of bullying under the newly revised provision of the Texas Education Code, now found in Section 37.0832, encompasses various forms of harmful behavior that occur on school property, at school-related activities, or in district-operated vehicles. Bullying may take the form of written or verbal expressions, electronic means, or physical conduct, and it must meet one of the following conditions:
1) Result in or have the potential to physically harm a student, damage their property, or instill reasonable fear of harm or damage to their person or belongings.
2) Be severe, persistent, and pervasive enough to create an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student. Bullying generally involves unwanted, aggressive actions among school-aged children, wherein a power imbalance is perceived or real. The behavior is either repeated or likely to recur over time. Both those who are bullied and those who engage in bullying behavior may face significant and lasting issues.
For behavior to be considered bullying, it must exhibit aggression and include the following elements:
1) An Imbalance of Power: Bullies utilize their power, which can take the form of physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity, to control or harm others. Power dynamics may change in different situations or over time, even if involving the same individuals.
2) Repetition: Bullying behaviors typically occur more than once or possess the potential for recurrence.
Bullying can manifest in three main types:
1) Verbal Bullying: This includes saying or writing mean things, such as teasing, name-calling, making inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, or threatening to cause harm.
2) Social Bullying: Also known as relational bullying, this type involves damaging someone's reputation or relationships. It encompasses actions like excluding someone on purpose, encouraging others not to befriend an individual, spreading rumors, or publicly embarrassing someone.
3) Physical Bullying: This involves hurting a person's body or possessions through actions like hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting, tripping, pushing, taking or breaking their belongings, or making rude hand gestures.