Why anti-bullying laws aren’t working

Forty-four states have laws against bullying, but they’re largely ineffective, according to an article in Education Week. The tragic suicide of 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera in the Atlanta area last spring (see this) was a prime illustration, since “Georgia’s law has one of the largest gaps between what it requires of [school] districts and the tools it gives them for meeting those requirements,” the article reports. “The state doesn’t collect data specifically on bullying occurrences, despite legislation that promises to strip state funding from schools failing to take action after three instances involving a bully.” One of the key problems, says Tucson, Ariz., attorney Michael Tully in his blog, is that the laws “have no teeth.” They require schools ” to adopt bullying prevention policies, but do not include any remedy for students and parents should the school not comply,” Tully later wrote in an email to me. And in his blog, he wrote, “Until these statutes include a private cause of action — something schools will fight against vigorously [lobbying to keep it out of laws] — bullying prevention efforts will continue to be a ‘paper tiger’.” As for state laws concerning cyberbullying, here’s the picture from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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