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
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
(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
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
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++
such as Delaware, Florida and Kentucky
because they have a counseling clause and have also added a Cyberbullying
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
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.
...I'm just joking here - or am
All States with no anti bullying laws get an F
States with worthless anti bullying laws, get a D
(2 points or less)
States with mediocre laws, get a C
States with acceptable laws get a B
States who have near perfect laws get A's
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
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.)