A Watch-dog Organization - Advocating for Bullied Children
& Reporting on State Anti Bullying Laws
The Texas State Capital
MAKING THE GRADE
How States are "Graded"
on their Anti Bullying Laws
by Brenda High, Founder & Co-Director
 
Effective anti bullying laws will cover these points:

1)   The word "bullying" must be used in the text of the bill/law/statutes.

Some words being used in State bill texts are, "hate crimes" harassment, discrimination, or intimidation.  While all these words find meaning in the act of bullying, using these terms do not always apply to school bullying situations.  Most adults don't even understand what the definition of a "hate crime" is, but everyone knows what a bully is. 

2)   The law must clearly be an anti bullying law, not a school safety law.

A good anti bullying law speaks to the rights of the individual student and their personal safety, not if the building itself is safe. Of course, it's important to have school building safety addressed also, but they are not one and the same.

3)   There must be definitions of bullying and harassment. 

Defining the problem is the key to solving the problem.

There should not be any major emphasis on defining victims.  This addition into an anti bullying law will cause several problems for lawmakers:

  • Any child can be victimized by a bully.  Remember that bullies bully because they can, and because they can get away with it. 
  • The way a bully's target or victim acts or physically looks is not the victims problem but the bully's own psychological problem.  The bully is the root of the problem.
  • Defining victims will slow the process of lawmaking, dividing political parties who will argue over which victims get special rights over other victims. 
  • All children deserve the "special right" not to be bullied.  ALL children who are bullied need to be protected.

    (Just a little note and opinion: Sometimes there is some confusion about "act's of hate" vs. "act's of bullying" or "hate speech" vs. "verbal bullying".  Remember, that most of the time we are dealing with children who have no understanding of "hate", the kind that adults define in political terms.  If someone is an adult, or old enough to know better, and they are terrorizing someone based on a prejudice, or a desire to personally attack and injure someone based on a prejudice, that's HATE!)

    4)   There should be recommendations about how to make policy and what needs to be in the model policy.

    No State Superintendent, School district, School, or even individual for that matter, likes to be left with no instruction on how to implement a project, program, policy or law.  An anti bullying law can be enacted without direct funding (no fiscal impact), but no anti bullying policy can be enacted without directions, rules, or a path to follow.  (See Washington law for an anti bullying law with no fiscal impact - www.bullypolice.org/wa_law.html)

    5)   A good law involves education specialists at all levels, starting with the State Superintendent's (Education) office, though the School Districts, Schools, Parents and Students.  Together they can define and set rules, policies, and find and implement the best anti bullying programs. Laws should require anti bullying training, anti bullying education for students and staff as well as prevention programs.

    When everyone gets involved to solve the bullying problems, everyone will benefit and will support those working to implement the anti bullying policies and programs. 

    It would also be a good idea for the State Superintendent's Office to post the model programs, rules, and policies that they have researched on their websites.  (Check out this model Washington State anti bullying policy at www.bullypolice.org/bullying_policy.html)

    6)   A good law mandates anti bullying programs, not suggests programs.

    Making a "suggestion" or "recommendation" is weak and useless wording for any law.  If the U.S. Government only recommended that we pay taxes, there would be no government programs, jobs, or organization within government at all.  The words, "MUST or WILL" is are excellent mandating words for an anti bullying policy or law. 

    With all the free anti bullying programs and all the grant money currently being given to schools to start anti bullying programs, there is little excuse not to have a good anti bullying program.

    7)   Laws should include a date the model policy is due, when the schools need to have their policies in place, (in keeping with the anti bullying law requirements), and when the anti bullying programs must be in effect.

    Every kid wants to know when the homework has to be turned in.

    8)   There must be protection against reprisal, retaliation or false accusation.

    A victim should never have to worry about being victimized twice for talking about his abuser.  The number one bullying tactic of a bully is to blame his victim for the circumstances, (the number one lie being, "He started it!").  Good school records and common sense will prevail in most questionable cases that come to the Principal's office.  False accusations should result in suspension or expulsion from school.  Anonymous reporting procedures should be implemented in each school.

    9)   There must be school district protection against lawsuits upon compliance to policies.

    If efforts by teachers and administrators are made to stop the bullying by reporting, documenting, punishing, expelling, or correcting the bullying situation, than no teacher or administrator should fear a lawsuit by a victim of bullying.  Parents of bullies need to be put on notice that they can be personally sued for the behavior of their child, if they make no efforts to stop their child from bullying after notification of that bullying.  This can go the other way, of course.  If bullying is reported by parents and the school doesn't react or comply with policies, parents have every right to sue for damages.  (see the trial briefs for High vs. Pasco School District - in the wrongful death, "bullycide", of Jared High www.jaredstory.com/the_lawsuit.html)

    10)  A top rated law will put the emphasis on the victims of bullying by assigning counseling for victims who suffer for years after peer abuse.

    Victims are tired of hearing about the bullies, and the services they should get to help them stop bullying.  Victims suffer all their lives as survivors of bullying.  According to a report put out by the FBI, victims of bullying, who became bullies themselves, are responsible for three out of four of the school shootings.  Although the number of suicides caused from bullying have not been researched, these numbers are likely a much higher number than the (sensationalized in the press) numbers of deaths caused from school shootings.  These bullying victims take out their anger on themselves, rather than face the pain of abuse at school or endure the depression that was caused from bullying at school.  Victims of bullying should take top billing when it comes to getting help by empowerment programs, therapy, counseling or paid medical expenses. 

    States with an emphasis on counseling victims will receive a plus after obtaining an A rating.  Some states now have an A++ rating, such as Delaware, Florida and Kentucky because they have a counseling clause and have also added a Cyberbullying clause. 

    11)  There must be accountability reports made to either Lawmakers or the State Education Superintendent and there must be a consequence assigned to schools/districts who donít comply with the law.  There should be mandatory posting and/or notification of policies and reporting-form-procedures for students and parents.

    Someone needs to keep track of what's happening in each school and school district when complying with an anti bullying law.  Who will grade each school's performance?  How will anyone know if adjustments or improvements need to be made?  You don't ask a child to empty the trash for the first time and trust that it will be done the first time.  Trust must be earned.  Being accountable for our actions/laws creates trust.

    12)  Cyberbullying or "Electronic Harassment" law.

    Having a cyberbullying clause in a law is essential as cyberbullying is becoming a chronic social issue.  Although state laws can't address harassment on the internet from state to state, they can address it from school to school within their state AND require that the school districts themselves keep a tight lid on what's going on inside their schools. It is the saddest thing in the world for a child to, not only be bullied in their school, but for the bullying to continue when they leave the school and go to their homes.

    States with a cyberbullying clause will receive a plus after obtaining an A rating.

    13) Outlaw Middle School/Jr. High
    ...I'm just joking here - or am I?



    All States with no anti bullying laws get an F                (0 points)
    States with worthless anti bullying laws, get a D          (2 points or less)
    States with mediocre laws, get a C                                (3-5 points)
    States with acceptable laws get a B                              (6-8 points)
    States who have near perfect laws get A's                   (9+ points)

    All plus's (+) and minus (-) are at the option of this writer, and are opinion.  This entire grading system is, of course, opinion (but top rated, experienced opinion).

    (Note: No State gets an A+ unless there is an emphasis on victims or a bullying victim's rights clause about getting free counseling or a cyberbullying clause.)

    (Note: No State gets an A++ unless there is an emphasis on victims or a bullying victim's rights clause about getting free counseling AND a CYBERBULLYING clause.)

    Grades are subject to change at any time - Please convince me that your State deserves a better grade!
     

    WANTED: Bully Police USA Volunteers/Directors and School District Director
    This is compassionate service given to bullied children who are not being heard.  By fighting at the State level for common sense laws, parents and bullied children will have recourse to demand a safe and secure environment within their schools.  Guidelines, (anti bullying laws), are like road signs, when there are road signs, traffic runs smoothly and safely, but without road signs chaos follows.  Most States are in "bullying chaos" and many children are traumatized every day at school with no help in sight.  If you are proactive and have a passion to stop bullying in your State, please me at 509-547-1052  (I do not answer anonymous phone calls.)     ~Brenda High, Founder, Co-Director Bully Police USA, Inc. and Webmaster of BullyPolice.org.  (Note: I'm out of town frequently - please leave a message and I'll return your call as soon as possible.)

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    About Brenda High,
    Founder and
    Co-Director of
    Bully Police USA
    BPUSA Webmaster

    Contacting Brenda
    Info - pg. 32 on PDF

    Brenda's Websites:
    BullyPolice.org
    BullyPolice.com
    Bullycide.org
    HeroesintheCrowd.com
    TheWoundedChild.org


    Brenda - On the Radio with Joyce Bender, October 2010
    2010 Interview

    Brenda - On the Radio with Joyce Bender, May 2008
    2008 Interview

    Brenda on the Radio
    With Joyce Bender
    "Disability Matters"


    AOL's 2010
    Amazing Mom:
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    Jared's Story
    JaredStory.com

    Jared's Story - A boy's life