Harassment is a term that refers to any behavior, especially repeated incidents, that is specifically intended to distress, humiliate, or torment another individual. When this behavior occurs in schools, it is known as student harassment. The policies for dealing with this type of harassment will generally vary depending on the country, region, or even specific school where it takes places. Schools may have education programs to raise awareness among students, as well as strict no tolerance policies, in order to help prevent harassment among students. Although it generally takes place between classmates, harassment can also be committed by a teacher or other authoritative figure.
Physical assault is one type of student harassment. This behavior may include tripping, kicking, hitting, or otherwise physically attacking a student. Parents whose children are victims of physical violence at school can generally choose to file criminal assault charges against the bullying student.
Another type of student harassment is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment refers to any unwanted or threatening sex-related action toward another person. This may include a person continually making unwanted sexual advances toward another student, touching him or her inappropriately, or any other sexually related behavior that causes discomfort. Even if the behavior is not intended to cause distress to the victim, it is usually considered sexual harassment if the victim feels uncomfortable.
The behavior does not necessarily have to be physical to be considered student harassment. Bullies can also use verbal threats of violence as a form of assault toward fellow students. Taunting or name calling can also be considered a verbal form of harassment. Intimidation is another type of nonphysical student harassment that can be more subtle and difficult to prove than other more blatant forms of harassment. Forms of intimidation may include a bully demanding money or favors from another student, threatening blackmail, or simply acting in any way that makes a victim scared for his or her safety.
A more modern form of student harassment is often referred to as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying between classmates generally involves the use of technology to stalk, threaten, or otherwise bother the victim. This can include contacting the victim through text messages, social networking sites, or online instant messages, as well as starting mocking or threatening websites about the victim for the purpose of humiliation or intimidation. This form of harassment tends to be more difficult for some schools to punish because it does not occur on school grounds, but generally does involve students and may be a continuation of harassment that does happen during the school day.