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Anti-Bullying Resources


Name-calling. Taunting. Pushing and shoving. Threatening texts. Demeaning posts on social media. Repeatedly being the butt of the joke.

Bullying comes in many forms – physical, verbal, social, and cyber – but one thing is clear: these widely prevalent behaviors are harmful to students. In addition to physical injuries, they can make students fearful at school, gut their self-esteem, and result in trauma and serious long-term mental health issues.

Bullying is generally defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance, and is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Autistic students are particularly vulnerable to bullying because they’re often perceived as different from their peers, and they may struggle with social skills.

According to a 2012 study by the Interactive Autism Network,  39% of autistic children between 6 and 15 years old reported being bullied in the past month, while only 12% of their non-autistic siblings in the same age group reported being bullied. The children with ASD were bullied at a rate more than three times that of their non-autistic peers. 

Even this number may be an underestimate because autistic students who have trouble reading social cues might not even identify that they are being bullied. They also may be overwhelmed by the idea of reporting an incident — or even discussing it with a friend or a trusted adult.

xMinds has developed this resource to help arm families with the information, strategies, and resources needed to respond should your child be subjected to bullying. Please know that help is available and that bullying must not go unchecked.

To address the issue, xMinds is partnering with the Autism Society of Maryland for a four-session "Anti-Bullying Speaker Series" this spring.

Session 1: What I've Learned About Bullying: Autistic Self-Advocate Stephen Shore Speaks Out. If you missed it, watch the recording HERE on the xMinds YouTube Channel

Session 2: My Autistic Child is Being Bullied: What Can I Do? - Wednesday, April 24 @ 7:00 - 8:30 PM. If you missed it, watch the recording HERE on the xMinds YouTube Channel

Session 3: Virtual Vigilance: Safeguarding Autistic Students from Cyberbullying - Tuesday, May 14 @ 7:00 - 8:30 PM. If you missed it, watch the recording HERE on the xMinds YouTube Channel.

Session 4: The Annual Autistic Self Advocates Panel: Bullying — What We Can Tell You - Tuesday, June 18 @ 7:00 - 8:30 PM. Register here.

We've also posted details on xMinds' Facebook, Instagram and X platforms.

General Resources

Initiatives and Organizations | Support for Students| Research

Initiatives and Organizations

  • Bystander Revolution is a website offering practical, crowdsourced advice about simple things individuals can do to defuse bullying and help shift the culture.


Support for Students

  • Montgomery County Crisis Center provides free crisis services 24 hours a day/ 365 days a year. Services are provided by telephone (240-777-4000) or in person at 1301 Piccard Drive in Rockville (no appointment needed).
  • PACER Center’s Kids Against Bullying. With colorful illustrations, checklists, and examples, this site helps kids understand what bullying is and identify if they are a target, or perhaps a bully.

Research


Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is rampant today, with personal attacks, threats, rumors, compromising photos, private information, and hurtful comments all flying through cyberspace. In a 2023 survey, approximately 55% of 13- to 17-year-olds reported that they experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center. About 27% said they had been cyberbullied in the most recent 30 days.

Here are some resources to help keep students safe on gaming platforms, social media, texting apps, and any other electronic platform:

  • Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying by Sameer Hinduja, Justin W. Patchin, co-directors of the the Cyberbullying Research Center. The third edition of this  guide on cyberbullying incorporates new evidence-based strategies focused on school climate, empathy, resilience, digital citizenship, media literacy, counterspeech, and student-led initiatives.
  • Common Sense Media offers a series of parent guides about the platforms, games, and apps that kids use to communicate.
  • ConnectSafely is nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people about online safety, privacy, security, and digital wellness. The site includes a Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying as well as guides to social media and gaming platforms.
  • Cyberbullying Research Center provides up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents. It also offers resources for students, parents, and educators on how to keep the online experience safe.


Bullying & Students With Disabilities

The following resources are geared toward the families of children with disabilities. Among the resources, you'll find information about specific protections under federal law, which guarantee that students with disabilities have  the legal right to a free appropriate public education. If a student with a disability is being bullied, federal law requires schools to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the issue and, as necessary, take steps to stop the bullying and prevent it from recurring.

  • Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education About Bullying and Students with Disabilities. This “Dear Colleague” letter to schools explains that the bullying of a student with a disability on any basis can result in a denial of free appropriate publication education (FAPE) that must be remedied. It also reiterates schools’ obligations to address conduct that may constitute a disability-based harassment violation and explains that a school must also remedy the denial of FAPE resulting from disability-based harassment.
  • PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center is a national anti-bullying organization with extensive resources on Students with Disabilities and Bullying. You’ll find guidance on ways to prevent and stop bullying including:
-- Information on legal rights of students with disabilities

-- Tips on how students can self-advocate to address bullying

-- PACER’s Peer Advocacy Model, which addresses bullying of students with disabilities by engaging, educating, and empowering their peers with advocacy skills.


How to Report Bullying

If your child has been the victim of bullying, report the incidents to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible, using the methods below. (If there is an emergency or if a crime is in progress, call 911.)

  • Incidents Within MCPS. Use the MCPS Bullying, Harassment, or Intimidation Reporting Form to report alleged incidents that occurred during the current school year on MCPS school property, at a school-sponsored activity or event off school property, on a school bus, on the way to and/or from school, or through personal mobile devices on or off school property. Complete this form and return it to the school principal. Click here to access a copy in another language. Submitting this form to the school will trigger an MCPS investigation. (For more information about the investigation process, go to xMinds Anti-Bullying page and click on the heading "MCPS Procedures for Handling Reports of Bullying."
  • ​​​​​​​Cyberbullying incidents. In addition to submitting a formal report to MCPS, you can report cyberbullying and online abuse to the relevant social media app, gaming network, or platform. The Cyberbullying Research Center maintains a current list of contact information. Take screenshots of all bullying interactions as evidence.
  • When a student has an IEP or 504 Plan. When a student with a disability is bullied, it could lead to the child being denied a free appropriate public education. In addition to completing a bullying report, you can notify the school about your specific concerns as the parent of a child with a disability. The Parents’ Place of Maryland offers step-by-step instructions on how to formally notify school administrators about concerns of harassment based on the child’s disability. The PACER Center has crafted sample letters for a Student with an IEP Plan and a Student with a 504 Plan.
  • Anonymous reporting. Safe Schools Maryland is an anonymous reporting system available to report any school or student safety ​concerns, including bullying incidents. Your anonymous report can be submitted by calling the tip line (1-833-MD-B-SAFE / 1-833-632-7233), completing an online form, or on the Safe Schools Maryland app.​ Safe Schools Maryland operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. Tips received are routed to school, public safety, health, and/or social services personnel for follow up.
  • Notifying federal authorities. While there are no federal laws that address bullying specifically, bullying may be considered discriminatory harassment when it is based on disability, race, national origin, color, sex, age, or religion. Federally-funded schools have an obligation to resolve harassment on these bases. In addition, regardless of whether the student is being bullied based on his or her disability, schools must remedy the effects of bullying on the services that the student with a disability receives (special education or other disability-related services) to ensure the student continues to receive a free appropriate public education, according to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. Any remedy should not burden the student who has been bullied. If the situation is not resolved by your school, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.
  • Contacting law enforcement. In certain situations, bullying is considered a crime. Contact local law enforcement if:

– The bully has issued threats of violence

– The bully has sent sexually explicit images or pornography

– The bullying has engaged in online harassment or stalking

– The bullying includes anything that constitutes a hate crime

– Electronic communications are used to cause a minor physical or emotional distress, including inducing a minor to commit suicide. (Grace's Law in Maryland)

MCPS Procedures for Handling Reports of Bullying

The Investigation | Consequences| Interventions and Support Services


When a formal report of bullying is filed with MCPS, it triggers an investigation, possible consequences, as well follow-ups and supports.

The Investigation

Montgomery County Board Policy JHF specifies that after a Bullying, Harassment, or Intimidation Report Form (MCPS Form 230-25) is filed with an MCPS school:

a) The principal/designee shall promptly conduct an adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation, in compliance with relevant law as appropriate, including the opportunity for the parties to present evidence into all reports of bullying, harassment, or intimidation.

b) Upon completing the investigation, the principal/designee shall implement supportive measures and consequences as appropriate and take steps to prevent the recurrence of bullying, harassment, or intimidation of the complainant or correct its discriminatory effects that may occur.

c) The principal/designee will contact the parent/guardian of all students identified in a report of bullying, harassment, or intimidation within 48 hours of receiving the report, unless the principal/designee is otherwise directed by law enforcement.

d) After the investigation has concluded, staff members will conduct individual and private conferences with both the complainant and the respondent to determine if the bullying, harassment, or intimidation has continued.

MCPS Regulation JHF-RA specifies that these conferences should occur within two weeks after the investigation and that another follow-up conference or conversation will be held with the targeted student four weeks after the initial follow-up conference to determine if the bullying, harassment, or intimidation has ceased.

Should the act of bullying, harassment, or intimidation necessitate police assistance, timelines and community notification procedures may need to be adjusted to accommodate police investigation.

Consequences and Remedial Actions

  • MCPS may apply consequences toward students committing acts of bullying, harassment, or intimidation; students engaged in reprisal or retaliation; and/or students found to have made intentional false accusations. All consequences must be in alignment with the MCPS Student Code of Conduct.
  • Each school will include a list with a range of consequences for acts of bullying, harassment, or intimidation, in its School Discipline Plan, according to MCPS Regulation JHF-RA. Consequences must be aligned with MCPS policies.
  • Some acts of bullying, harassment, or intimidation could also be delinquent acts [an act, by a person under age 18, that if committed by an adult would be a crime.] In such cases, the school should promptly report the act to the responsible law enforcement agency in accordance with the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 13A.08.01.15.
  • MCPS is committed to “recognition of positive behavioral changes by students who previously exhibited bullying behaviors, students who were bullied who are implementing strategies to offset the trauma of the bullying incident, and for students who were bystanders who have taken an active role in preventing future occurrences of bullying,” as noted in Regulation JHF-RA.

Interventions and Support Services

MCPS offers a number of interventions and support services to students who were bullied and to bystanders, as well as to students who are alleged to have bullied others. Items mentioned in Montgomery County Board Policy JHF include:

  • A continuum of culturally responsive social/emotional supports, utilizing a trauma-informed and restorative approach.
  • Supports to build resilience, increase social connections and peer interaction, reduce the possibility of further episodes of bullying, and otherwise increase the student’s sense of safety and social connection.
  • Practical, safe, private, and age-appropriate ways for students to discuss a bullying incident with staff, if the student desires to.
  • Counseling and mental health supports.

In some cases, MCPS will work with the student and family to develop a Supportive Measures Plan, outlining specific supports, such as:

  • schedule changes
  • trusted friends/student escorts
  • early excusal from classes
  • flash pass to leave class and go to a trusted adult
  • classroom/lunch room seat assignments change

How to Address Bullying in an IEP

IEP Suggestions Related Resources

If their child is being bullied, parents have the right to request an IEP or 504 Plan team meeting. At the meeting, you can advocate for changes to the IEP or 504 Plan to thwart bullying and help your student develop protective skills.

As a starting point, work together with the team to determine what may be making the student vulnerable to being bullied. For example, is it the child’s inability to read social cues, inability to respond effectively, or inability to self-advocate? To be clear, it's not the student's fault for being bullied, but by identifying specific issues, the IEP team can develop goals and objectives to strengthen those areas. Be sure to also ask about aids, services, and supports that can help the student work toward their goals as well as establish safety measures.

Specific examples of ways to address bullying in the different sections of an IEP include:

Measurable annual goals and objectives

The student will:

  • learn self-advocacy skills, including the ability to advocate for themselves when they are being isolated or when a peer is being mean and the ability to say “no” or “stop that”
  • improve peer relations in the school setting
  • develop the ability to identify and report bullying
  • develop coping skills, including strategies on how to react to, handle, and avoid bullying behavior
  • confide in a trusted adult about bullying incidents and will collaborate with the trusted adult on how to deal with bullying behaviors


Supplementary aids and services

  • social skills instruction, including how to recognize social skills
  • self-advocacy instruction, including the ability to say “no” or “stop that”
  • instruction on how to identify and report bullying
  • instruction on coping skills (including ways to react to, handle, and avoid bullying behavior)
  • adult support to collaborate with the student on how to handle bullying
  • hall pass (to leave early or late, if the hall is area where bullying is occurring)
  • flash pass to access school psychologist, social worker, or counselor
  • aide or a trusted pair of students to walk the student to class
  • peer buddy
  • lunch bunch group led by school counselor
  • social skills groups
  • preferential seating
  • a non-verbal signal system to communicate whether intervention is needed
  • home-school communication system to update the family about continued incidents or acts of retaliation


Related services to help student who has experienced bullying, harassment

  • psychological services
  • social work services


Counseling services

  • social skills training


Programmatic supports and modifications

  • Administrators, educators, transportation staff, or students participate in disability awareness trainings
  • Administrators, educators, transportation staff, or students participate in-service trainings on bullying, harassment, intimidation, including recognizing the signs of bullying, appropriate intervention strategies, and proper reporting procedures.


Related Resources

  • Step-by-step instructions on how to formally notify school administrators about concerns of harassment based on the child’s disability. Provided by The Parents Place of Maryland.




    Montgomery County & Maryland Resources


    MCPS Resources

    • MCPS Reporting Form for Bullying, Harassment or Intimidation. Use this form to report alleged incidents of bullying, harassment, or intimidation that occurred during the current school year on MCPS school property, at a school-sponsored activity or event off school property, on a school bus, on the way to and/or from school, or through personal mobile device on or off school property.
    • MCPS Supportive Measures Plan. This form is used by MCPS to ensure that a student who was bullied receives supports needed for their emotional and physical safety. When appropriate, the form may also be used to detail any supportive measures needed for alleged offenders.
    • Montgomery County Board Policy JHF and MCPS Regulation JHF-RA provide procedures that address the prohibition of bullying in schools by implementing prevention, early intervention, remedial activities, and specific consequences as needed, and guard against reprisal or retaliation against individuals who report acts of bullying.
    • Culture of Respect Student Training is an online lesson for MCPS secondary school students with the objective of teaching how to recognize and report signs of bullying/cyber bullying, harassment (including sexual harassment), hate-bias incidents, hazing, intimidation, and student gender norms.


    Maryland Resources

    • Maryland’s Cyberbullying Law. Named in honor of Howard County teen Grace McComas, who committed suicide in 2012 after being bullied online, Grace’s Law makes it a misdemeanor to bully someone though electronic communications. Enacted in 2013, the law was updated to Grace’s Law 2.0 in 2019. The revised law broadened the scope of cyberbullying and increased penalties. Read the WTOP news report on Grace’s law; watch the WJZ news report.


    xMinds & AUSOM Anti-Bullying Webinars

    Coming Soon!


    Evidence-Based School Prevention Programs


    • Al's Pals — Making Healthy Choices.   Al’s Pals is a social–emotional learning curriculum designed for the specific needs of preschool children. It focuses on helping young children make healthy decisions, resolve conflicts, manage their feelings, and build positive relationships. Includes original songs that reinforce lessons and core concepts and puppets and puppet scripts to engage preschool children. Audience: preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade
    • Botvin Lifeskills Training. Offers a range of materials (videos, teacher's guides, activity cards, student handouts) to help students learn how to prevent bullying, what to do if they are bullied, and what to do if they are a bystander to a bullying incident. Audience: K – 12
    • Bully-Proofing Your School (BPYS) is a comprehensive, school-based intervention designed to reduce bullying and school violence, and increase knowledge about school safety for students and parents. BPYS is implemented in a classroom setting and includes three major components: 1) heightening awareness of bullying; 2) teaching protective skills for handling bullying, resisting victimization, and helping potential victims; and 3) creating a positive school climate by promoting a “caring majority” that focuses on bystander behavior. Audience: grades 3 – 5.
    • Center for Violence Prevention (CVP) at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. CVP partners with the School District of Philadelphia and Maryland's Anne Arundel County Public Schools to provide bullying prevention programs. Programs include Preventing Aggression in Schools Everyday (PRAISE), which offers a 20 session classroom-based bullying prevention program to 3rd – 5th grade students that teaches problem-solving, perspective taking, and how to be a positive bystander. Audience: Elementary school
    • Safe School Ambassadors® Program focuses on developing student leaders who can help prevent and stop bullying. Selected students participate in a two-day interactive training along with several adults who serve as program mentors. The training gives student Ambassadors the skills and tools to resolve conflicts, defuse incidents, and support isolated and excluded students. After the training, small group meetings of Ambassadors are held every few weeks. The Safe School Buddies Program is available for younger students, grades 1 – 3. It prepares younger students to become upstanders and to become Safe School Ambassadors when they enter fourth grade.
    • Olweus Bullying Prevention Program has over forty years of research and successful implementation in schools all over the world. OBPP is a comprehensive, sustainable, systems change, whole-school program that focuses on changing the school climate through school, classroom, and individual levels and includes methods to reach out to parents, after-school programs, and the community for involvement and support. Audience: ages 5 – 15
    • PeaceBuilders is a science-based, research-validated violence prevention curriculum and professional development program for grades pre-K to 12. Its essence is a common language - six principles, taught, modeled and practiced. These same principles set behavioral expectations, reduce aggression, and transform the climate and culture of any environment to one which is cooperative, productive, and academically successful. Audience: preschool, elementary, middle/high school
    • Peer Advocacy is a bullying prevention model geared toward helping students with disabilities. A peer advocate program creates a formal process that identifies, trains, and supports a designated group of students who watch out for students with disabilities. This model is promoted by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center.

    • Stop Bullying Now, a project of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC), provides training for educators and parents, as well as programs for students, including assemblies, curricula, and peer leadership training. Audience: K – 12
    • KiVa is an antibullying program that has been developed in the University of Turku, Finland, with funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture. Audience: elementary, middle school


    Please note that inclusion of any organizations, services, products, or classes on this page does not constitute an endorsement by xMinds. This content is general in nature and should not be considered as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. We welcome recommendations of additional resources. The reader of this information assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information before making any decisions based on such information.

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