New Laws Across the Country Target Bullying In School

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Forty-five states now have laws against bullying and harassment in schools, including Georgia. The Department of Education sent out a memo last month reiterating that all incidents of bullying and harassment be addressed immediately and effectively.

In the memo Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, also addressed key components of bullying laws in several states. Here are some interesting highlights:

  • Oklahoma has linked bullying to antisocial behavior such as vandalism, shoplifting, fighting and drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Indiana law addresses incidents taking place on school property, off school property and even cases involving equipment provided by the school.
  • Maryland and Oregon include ‘intimidation’ in the definition of bullying.

DOE highlighted Georgia law, which provides a procedure not only for students, but also for families, staff and others who report incidents of bullying. The Feds recommend a zero tolerance policy against bullying.

Duncan also addressed the Dear Colleague letter sent out last October from the Department’s Office for Civil Rights. As reported last fall, the letter explains how “discrimination and harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability and religion” should be handled as a civil rights violation.

As reported last month, every school in Georgia must implement new bullying policies by August 1, 2011 that cover the following:

  • Prohibit student-to-student bullying in the code of conduct.
  • Send third time bullying offenders to an alternative school.
  • Establish a plan to notify parents or guardians of kids who bully or are the victim of bullying.

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