Bullying Definitions

The following definitions are directly from M.G.L. c. 71, §370. Aggressor is a student or member of the school staff who engages in bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation towards a student.

Bullying, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is the repeated use by one or more students or a member of a school staff of a written, verbal, or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that: i. causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property; ii. places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or of damage to his or her property; iii. creates a hostile environment at school for the target; iv. infringes on the rights of the target at school; or v. materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

Cyberbullying is bullying through the use of technology or electronic devices such as telephones, cell phones, computers, and the Internet. It includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messages, text messages, and Internet postings. See M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O for the legal definition of cyberbullying.

Harassment includes, but is not limited to, conduct when related to a person’s sex (gender), race, color, national origin, religion, age, handicap and/or disability and sexual orientation and when such conduct is unwelcome by the recipient. In order to give rise to a complaint, harassment must be sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it adversely affects a student’s education by creating an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment. For a one-time incident to rise to the level of harassment, it must be severe. See FPS Policy 5147 for more information.

Hot Spot is any location in or around school grounds that tends to be a common area where bullying/harassment will commonly occur.

Hostile environment, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is a situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule, or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of a student’s education.

Retaliation is any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment directed against a student who reports bullying or harassment, provides information during an investigation of bullying or harassment, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying or harassment.

Staff includes, but is not limited to, educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, support staff, or paraprofessionals.

Target is a student against whom bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, or retaliation has been perpetrated.