Bullying and Cyber-Bullying

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What does “bullying” (and “cyber-bullying”) mean

To sum up bullying in a few sentences, bullying is any action (physical, verbal, in writing, or online) that is directed at another student(s) with the intention of harming the student(s) physically, mentally, or emotionally. It also includes actions meant to create fear, interfere with a student’s academic performance, or interfere with their ability to fulfill activities related to the school. These may include acts that are committed directly or indirectly (e.g., by instigating other students or excluding someone from an activity).

“Cyber-bullying” is to do any of the things above using technology or the internet. This may also be done directly or indirectly, such as posting something online to incite other students to react negatively against a student.

Common examples of bullying are:

  1. Namecalling
  2. Pointing out faults in the person, their family members, or their friends
  3. Exercising one’s strength and power over another person
  4. Taking a student’s personal property
  5. Physically harming another student

Doing any of these things “as a joke,” while “playing around,” or even if the other person “doesn’t mind,” all count as bullying and will have the same consequences as normal bullying.

“Bullying”; it’s more common than you think

According to the National Voices for Equality, Education, and Enlightenment (NVEEE), 90% of 4th through 8th graders report being bullied. If that’s the case, almost every kid possibly goes through bullying at some point during elementary and middle school. Students in the Advanced Hifz program are no exception.

To make matters more complicated, most students never complain about bullying either. They will keep it bottled inside fearing that they will be called a “snitch,” a “tattletale,” or a “teacher’s pet.” An even greater fear for them is that they will be cast out of their social circle, cut off from their friends, and not included in group activities.

Well, my child never complained about bullying before

Alhamdulillah, it’s great if a child never complains about bullying, but based on the statistics, it may mean that it did happen, you just didn’t know about it. And we are not only talking about the one bullied but also about the bully-er.

What does CJIIS do about bullying

At CJIIS, we aim to adopt a very high standard for social conduct (akhlaq). The smallest of things are treated as infractions; using nicknames, using minor bad words, laying down without permission, etc. Bullying, on the other hand, is a major infraction, and at CJIIS, it can be called a double-major infraction.

Bullying not only prevents a child from learning but in many cases, it causes the child to lose interest in learning. And in our case here, it can become a cause for the student to lose their connection with the Qur’an itself!

To prevent bullying and keep the child’s love for the Qur’an alive, the following steps are firmly taken when a case of bullying is confirmed:

  1. A lower-level consequence is given (e.g., detention) and parents are contacted. The student is counseled by a staff member and reminded about the repercussions of bullying, for himself and the one who is bullied. A meeting with the parents may be arranged.
  2. The student is suspended and a meeting is arranged with the parents of the student. The suspension may be for a defined duration (e.g., one week) and/or contingent on something else (e.g., writing a letter showing clear actionable items for future behavior).
  3. The issue is escalated to the board, a hearing is held, and if a decision is made against the student, the student is expelled from the institute. Probation may occur prior to this step.

For details regarding detentions, suspensions, and expulsions, please refer to the appropriate sections of the handbook.

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