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Bullying: What staff should know and can do

Everyone has a role to play in bullying prevention and response, and to promote a culture of respect, responsibility and resiliency. Staff have a key role in this effort and must take action when a bullying incident happens.

​​Every student has the right to learn in a safe learning environment. Bullying, ranging from teasing/taunting to physical violence — no matter how insignificant it appears — needs to be addressed and taken seriously. Every student needs to feel physically and psychologically safe to learn and grow.

School administrators and staff, working together with students, families and community partners, can provide safe and orderly school environments that emphasize respect, responsibility and resiliency. Bullying is not acceptable.


School administrators and their staff can create safe and bully-free learning environments by:

  • Establishing a common language of what the school’s positive behavioral expectations are schoolwide, and in its various settings (classrooms, cafeteria, playground, restrooms, etc.). It should reflect a culture of respect, responsibility and resiliency.
  • Acknowledging students when they model the school’s behavioral expectations — positive reinforcement of good behavior works.
  • Teaching the schoolwide behavioral expectations on a routine basis. You can also refer to our anti-bullying page for students.
  • Reinforcing acts of kindness and communicating values of acceptance, respect and responsibility.
  • Integrating anti-bullying themes into the curriculum and daily routines.
  • Being a role model of the school’s positive behavioral expectations.
  • Treating students with respect and compassion, letting them know that they are available to listen, help, and support them.
  • Routinely looking at the school's student behavior incident data to identify "hot spots" in the school where bullying may occur.
  • Helping students understand that positive behaviors lead to positive consequences and negative behaviors lead to negative consequences. Give them the opportunity to self-correct negative behavior upon feedback and reflection.


Intervene: Simple steps adults can take to stop bullying on the spot and to keep students safe may include: staying calm, intervening immediately, calling for help, separating the students involved, making sure everyone is safe, and meeting immediate medical or mental health needs.

Reporting: Based on the provisions of Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) Chapter 19, Subchapter 5, Reporting Offenses, section 8-19-19, any teacher, official or other employee of the DOE who is witness to a Class A or Class B offense that has been committed or will be committed against a student, teacher, official or other employee of the DOE, shall promptly report the incident to the principal or designee. Bullying and cyberbullying are defined as Class B offenses in HAR Chapter 19. The principal or designee upon receipt of the incident shall conduct an investigation to determine whether the behavior requires a call to the police or whether the behavior can be handled through school disciplinary procedures. Important additional information about reporting:

  • Substantiated HAR Chapter 19 offenses are those that have been committed on school grounds, on Department transportation or during a Department-sponsored activity on or off school property.
  • Non-substantiated HAR Chapter 19 offenses are those that have occurred after school hours, during the weekend, on or at non-Department property or events. Chapter 19 consequences cannot be applied. However, this does not preclude the school from providing other types of consequences, interventions and supports for the offenders, victims and bystanders.

If an incident is substantiated, the principal or designee will determine appropriate disciplinary actions, interventions and supports for the offender(s). Interventions and supports to the victims and bystanders are also provided based on the needs of the students. In determining disciplinary actions, the principal or designee shall consider the following factors: Intention of the offender, the nature and severity of the offense, the impact of the offense on others including whether the action was committed by an individual or a group of individuals, the age of the offender, and if the offender was a repeat offender.

HAR Chapter 19 disciplinary action options include the following: correction and conference with student, detention, crisis removal, individualized instruction related to student’s problem behaviors, in-school suspension, interim alternate education setting, loss of privileges, parent conferences, time in office, suspension of 1 to 10 days, suspension of 11 or more days, Saturday school, disciplinary transfer, referral to alternative education programs, dismissal or restitution. Students shall be counseled in addition to any disciplinary action taken. Examples of interventions and supports include, but are not limited to, school counseling, peer mediation, conflict resolution, social skills training, parental involvement, and problem solving skills training.

School Support Teams: All students involved in a bullying incident, including bystanders, can be affected and need to be supported. School support teams and specialized personnel working together can provide targeted interventions which may include individualized or group counseling and supports.


Bullying does not stop once an incident is reported. It may take time to resolve. School staff, families and community partners working together need to be persistent and make a commitment to following up with all involved. School support teams with access to student behavioral data are able to track and monitor schoolwide and individual student progress to determine where appropriate interventions and supports are needed.

​Anti-Bullying Work

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Contact Information

Communications and Community Affairs Office

Phone: 808-586-3232

Email: doe_info@hawaiidoe.org

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