Put Down Humor - "roasted"

posted Dec 20, 2018, 8:23 AM by david.leonard1@middletownusd.org

Dear Families,

IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ. It’s come to our attention that there have been a number of students at Cobb Mountain Elementary who are engaging in put down humor and what’s known as “roasting”. This humor is quickly followed by the words “I was just joking” or “I was just kidding”.  These put downs cannot be taken back once spoken, and pretending that it’s a joke is simply a way of failing to take responsibility for one’s words and acts.

While the entertainment industry will often use put downs as a means of making people laugh, the reality is that this type of humor is habit forming, negative, and hurtful.  Put-downs are intended to make others laugh at the expense of one individual. This type of humor/behavior is unwelcome, and quickly becomes a form of bullying because of its pervasive and habitual nature (see the full legal definition of bullying below). The uneven power dynamic where one individual is the receiver of negative attention by a group of people is a form of bullying, and will not be tolerated. When this type of humor is used repeatedly, the negative effects are compounded.  When these types of jokes are told in the presence of others, the detrimental effects on a child’s mental health is predictable. These acts lead to low self-esteem, a negative self-image, a sense of powerlessness, and an inability to focus or participate effectively in school activities. We have students who are coming forward and reporting that this is taking place repeatedly, and I need your help in putting it to a stop.  

How do we make a change?

Students who engage in this will be completing refocus forms so parents are made aware of the problem.  If we see repeat offenders, more significant consequences will follow including restorative practices, additional character education instructional time during recess to learn about the effects of bullying, and ultimately suspension if other consequences fail to change the behavior.

In addition to our Anti-bullying curriculum that we use at Cobb Mountain Elementary, our staff is taking steps to address this particular type of bullying with specific instructional strategies. We are teaching children ways in which they can recognize the behavior, refuse the behavior verbally (and stand up for others who are receiving this type of negative attention), and how and when to report the behavior. RECOGNIZE, REFUSE & REPORT are the three Rs we use to describe what to do when you feel you’re being bullied. This type of behavior is often done out of earshot of adults, and it’s difficult to do anything about it if it isn’t reported.

Examples of bullying:

The following two video clips highlight two types of bullying.

Wreck it Ralph - video clip link


The first is the put-down humor referred to in this letter from a popular movie. At first glance, it might seem funny. We see Wreck-it Ralph refuse the behavior. In the end, he reverts to the same behavior he’s experiencing.

LOU  by Pixar Animation Studios - video clip link


 The second video is more about physical acts bullying, and how bullies become bullies. I recommend viewing them both with your child and discussing them.  They total no more than ten minutes, and offer a good place to begin the discussion about that kind of humor and bullying.

What can parents do?

Talk to your children about this type of humor. As you watch films and tv shows and you see these types of put downs, please call it what it is to your kids. Ask them if they can understand who is the receiver of the put down, and talk about the motivation behind the behavior. Listen for this type of talk as your child interacts with others to see if it is something they’re doing.

CA Education Code

Lastly, it’s important to understand that California Education code states:

A pupil may be suspended or recommended for expulsion for cause.  

Bullying is listed as one of the many causes for disciplinary action, and is a suspendable offense which our school is taking very seriously.

DEFINITION of BULLYING: Bullying means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, and including one or more acts committed by a pupil or group of pupils as defined in Section 48900.2, 48900.3, or 48900.4, directed toward one or more pupils that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following:

(A) Placing a reasonable pupil or pupils in fear of harm to that pupil’s or those pupils’ person or property.

(B) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantially detrimental effect on his or her physical or mental health.

(C) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her academic performance.

(D) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

Thank you for taking the time to discuss this with your children.


David Leonard