You are hereDefinitions


These definitions, adapted from Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L) c. 71, § 37O   and other sources, will help you to understand the language on this website and on the Newton Public Schools reporting forms.

Bullying (including cyberbullying) is the repeated use by one or more students or staff member, of a written, verbal, or electronic communication or expression, or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target. Bullying results in the outcomes that:
• cause physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to his or her property;
• place the target in reasonable fear of harm to him or herself or of damage to his or her property;
• create a hostile environment at school for the target;
• infringe on the rights of the target at school; or
• materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

Cyberbullying is bullying through the use of technology or any electronic means or communication, including, but not limited to: any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.

Cyberbullying shall also include: (i) the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or (ii) the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying. Cyber-bullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.

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

Aggressor is a student or a staff member, including but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity or paraprofessional who engages in bullying or retaliation.

Target is a student or adult against whom bullying or retaliation has been perpetrated.

Bystander(s) is the person or people who witness an act of bullying.

Hostile Environment 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 the student's education.

Staff Member includes, but is not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity or paraprofessional.

School Grounds is property on which a school building or facility is located or property that is owned, leased or used by a school district, charter school, non-public school, or approved private day or residential school, or collaborative school for a school-sponsored activity, function, program, instruction or training.

Bullying can include any form of repeated behavior, either in person or via electronic means, that involves an imbalance of power or strength and a pattern of behavior which interferes with another person’s sense of safety, dignity, comfort or productivity in the school environment. Possible behaviors may include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Physical intimidation or assault 
• Name calling (verbal/written), teasing, mimicking, slurs, or other derogatory remarks 
• Displaying materially and substantially disruptive graffiti, symbols, posters, pictures, 
cartoons/caricatures, notes, book covers, or designs on clothing 
• Phone calls, and/or electronic communications 
• Touching of a person or person’s clothing 
• Words, pranks or actions which provoke feelings or embarrassment, hurt, or intimidation 
• Stalking 
• Threats, threatening gestures or actions 
• False accusations or rumors 
• Social isolation 

The above behaviors are not necessarily bullying in isolation, but they constitute bullying when they occur in a repeated context and they: 
• have the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive school or work environment; 
• have the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or 
work performance; or 
• otherwise adversely affect an individual’s educational opportunities. 


Before filing an incident report, we strongly encourage you to also explore other pages on this website to learn more about bullying prevention and intervention.