Does your state have legislation in place to prevent bullying inside and outside of school? As a follow-up to the first Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit, hosted in 2010 by the Department of Education and other federal agencies, the Department of Education got to work gathering information about state anti-bullying laws. Last week they released Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies, a new report that summarizes approaches that states across the country are taking to make laws to protect kids from bullying.
According to the report, 46 states currently have anti-bullying laws and from 1999-2010 more than 120 bills were enacted by state legislatures around the country to address bullying and related behaviors in schools. Progress continues to be made, as 30 new bills have been signed into law in the last year and a half.
I wish those laws didn’t need to exist, that bullying and “related behaviors” would just disappear on their own because, as fellow citizens of this country, we could rise up and stop behaviors that viciously target, harm, belittle, or degrade others. But that’s not happening magically on its own and we do need legislation to give teachers, lawmakers, and administrators the authority and guidelines they need to enforce good behavior.
A press release from the DOE states, “Out of the 46 states with anti-bullying laws in place, 36 have provisions that prohibit cyber bullying and 13 have statutes that grant schools the authority to address off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.”
This last piece seems crucial. I don’t know how schools can effectively combat bullying if the only behaviors that can be addressed are those that occur on campus. So much of the behavior happens off-campus and carries over into the schools.
“Every state should have effective bullying prevention efforts in place to protect children inside and outside of school,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This report reveals that while most states have enacted legislation around this important issue, a great deal of work remains to ensure adults are doing everything possible to keep our kids safe.”
There’s more to be done but it’s comforting to know that changes are being made. We need to be the voices that keep this momentum going.
To learn more and to read the full report, visit http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/ppss/reports.html#safe.