FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2010
Anti-Bullying Bill Advances
Based on Bullying-Prevention Bill Sponsored by Senator Eldridge
BOSTON – The Joint Committee on Education approved a bullying-prevention bill today that aims to dramatically reduce bullying at schools. The bill, which is based on the frameworks found in the bill filed last January by State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), prohibits bullying, including cyberbullying, on school grounds and would require schools to develop a bullying prevention and intervention plan.
“This comprehensive, prevention-oriented legislation will work to end the tragic cycle of bullying we’ve seen in the Commonwealth’s schools for years, leading to tragedies like those in South Hadley, Springfield and too many other communities,” said Eldridge. “It’s a strong step toward a Commonwealth where schools are a safe place for all students.”
The bullying-prevention legislation was originally championed by former State Senator Robert Antonioni, who, upon his retirement, asked Eldridge to carry the torch. “Bob was a strong advocate for this issue for years, and really deserves a lot of credit for the time and energy he put into this bill. I was moved by his passion, and honored to sponsor the bill this year.”
The bill that was passed by the Committee today would:
- Specifically define bullying, including cyberbullying.
- Prohibit bullying at school and at all school facilities, at school-sponsored or related functions, on school buses and at school bus stops, through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, licensed or used by a school, and at non-school-related locations and through non-school technology or electronic devices, if the bullying affects the school environment.
- Require schools to provide age appropriate bullying prevention instruction for students in each grade.
- Require schools to provide professional development for teachers and other staff to help them prevent and stop bullying and to offer education to parents about bullying prevention.
- Mandate that children on the Autism spectrum receive training on how to avoid and respond to bullying.
- Require all school staff to promptly report bullying when they witness or become aware of it. A school principal or his designee must immediately investigate and take appropriate disciplinary action.
- Require each school to develop a bullying prevention and intervention plan, containing:
- Procedures for responding to and investigating reports of bullying
- Strategies for protecting those who report bullying
- Notice to the parents or guardians of students involved in bullying, including perpetrators and victims
- Appropriate services for students who have been bullied or who are bullies
- Require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a model bullying prevention and intervention plan and compile a list of bullying prevention and intervention resources, to aid schools and districts in anti-bullying efforts.