Laws specifically targeting bullying behavior are a relatively recent phenomenon. Bullying was long tolerated, if not accepted, as a part of growing up. Fortunately, our society finally began to appreciate just how harmful bullying can be and took action. Anti-bullying legislation of one form or another has now been passed in all 50 states. The laws vary significantly in how they address the problem. Recent research suggests that the most effective approaches to anti-bullying legislation have had the intended effect. The research may help states with less effective laws make necessary changes to protect the victims of bullying.
According to researchers, bullying affects 20 percent of high school students in the U.S. It is a widespread problem. Studies have clearly demonstrated that victims of bullying suffer ill effects both physical and mental. The importance of effectively combating the problem should be clear to all by now.
The study found a number of factors connected the most effective forms of anti-bullying legislation. The best laws were able to reduce incidents of bullying, both traditional bullying behaviors and cyberbullying. The most successful laws laid out when and where schools were authorized to take action to stop bullying. They also gave clear definitions for bullying. Finally, the best laws require schools to create and implement anti-bullying policies.
Bullying has been a known issue at schools for generations. Left to their own devices, school administrators did little to address the problem. It is not surprising that the most effective laws require schools to act and give them a well-defined mandate. Even the best anti-bullying statute is dependent on school boards and educational professionals living up to their end of the bargain. Victims of school bullying and their parents should be prepared to push school boards to fulfill their obligations under the law.
Source: NPR, "Laws To Stop Bullying Can Protect Teens If They're Done Right," by Lynne Shallcross, 5 October 2015