On September 21, 2011 the U.S. Department of Education hosted the second annual Bullying Prevention Summit. The summit placed increased focus on the problem and growth of bullying in school. A press release from the U.S. Department of Education highlighted the need for increased awareness around bullying issues:

“According to recently released data by the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 70 percent of students play some role in bullying, whether as a bully, a victim or a witness, demonstrating the need for increased awareness. Other research suggests that bullying and harassment can lead to poorer educational outcomes, lower future aspirations, frequent school absenteeism, and lower grade-point averages.”

U.S. Department of Education Press Release

There are no national anti-bullying laws. However, there are many government supported campaigns directed at addressing the bullying issue.

National Research and Awareness Sites

State Efforts

States have taken on a wide and varied approach to addressing this issue. Cyber Bullying Enacted Legislation 2006-2010

Massachusetts Policy

The Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Law was approved by Governor Deval Patrick on May 3, 2010. Partly in response to the suicides of Massachusetts students Phoebe Prince and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the comprehensive law specifically addresses cyberbullying, requires teachers and school staff to report bullying to a principal or administrator, and requires prevention and intervention training for all staff and students.

According to the Massachusetts law, bullying is defined as:

The severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of: (i) causing physical or emotional harm to the other student or damage to the other student’s property; (ii) placing the other student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property; (iii) creating a hostile environment at school for the other student; (iv) infringing on the rights of the other student at school; or (v) materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

Bullying is prohibited in Massachusetts on school property, at school functions with school equipment, and also at locations that are not school related or through the use of technology that is not owned by the school. In Massachusetts bullying can occur outside of school if a situation “create[s] a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringe[s] on the rights of the victim at school, or materially and substantially disrupt[s] the education process or the orderly operation of a school.”

Massachusetts Bullying Prevention Law

Additional News Articles

CBS Boston Coakley To Testify for Bullying Committee October 22, 2011
WBUR Challenges Persist Surrounding Bullying Prevention By Lynn Jolicoeur Sep 23, 2011
Education Week We’re all Responsible for Bullying by Peter DeWitt August 15, 2011