What is bullying?

Washington State's Definition of Bullying

RCW 28A.300.285 defines bullying and harassment as: "Harassment, intimidation, or bullying" means any intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act, including but not limited to one shown to be motivated by any characteristic in RCW 9A.36.080(3), or other distinguishing characteristics, when the intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act:

  1. Physically harms a student or damages the student's property; or
  2. Has the effect of substantially disrupting a student's education; or
  3. Is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment; or
  4. Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.

Nothing in this section requires the affected student to actually possess a characteristic that is a basis for the harassment, intimidation, or bullying.

The Facts

More than one in four eighth-graders reported in the 2008 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey that they were bullied in the past month. However, research shows that when targeted students are prepared, know how to respond appropriately, and seek immediate adult help, the bullying action will stop.

Bullying, harassment and intimidation acts can be related to physical appearance, personal traits, race, ethnicity, skin color, form of dress, disability actual or perceived sexual orientation, and gender expression or identity or other characteristics of the victim and they can occur before, after, and during school. It can also take place online, also known as cyberbullying, and over cell phones with text messaging.