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ERIC Number: ED527524
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Dec
Pages: 202
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 59
Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies
Stuart-Cassel, Victoria; Bell, Ariana; Springer, J. Fred
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, US Department of Education
Bullying in schools has become widely viewed as an urgent social, health, and education concern that has moved to the forefront of public debate on school legislation and policy. The Columbine High School shooting in 1999 was the first of many high-profile incidents of violent behavior that appeared to implicate bullying as an underlying cause (Greene & Ross, 2005). The incident ignited a wave of new legislative action within state legislatures that aimed to curtail bullying behavior on school campuses or to mitigate its effects. The trend was later fueled by a number of highly visible suicides among school-age children and adolescents that were linked to chronic bullying, attracting national attention to the issue (Marr & Field, 2001). The heightened visibility has coincided with an expansion of research knowledge identifying a range of serious and long-term consequences associated with bullying behavior, such as increased depression, substance use, aggressive impulses, and school truancy (Nansel, et al., 2001; Roland, 2002; Klomek, et al., 2007; Gastic, 2008; O'Brennan, Bradshaw, & Sawyer, 2009; Juvonen, 2009). Together these factors have placed increased pressure on governments and school systems for solutions to more effectively prevent or reduce bullying in schools. To address these issues, in August 2010, the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cohosted the first Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit, which brought together government officials, researchers, policymakers, and education practitioners to explore potential strategies to combat bullying in schools. This summit highlighted the need for more comprehensive information about the current status of state legislation, as well as information on how existing laws and policies translate into practice within elementary and secondary school systems. To address this gap in information, the U.S. Department of Education, Program and Policy Studies Service, initiated a study designed to answer the following study questions: (1) To what extent do states' bullying laws cover U.S. Department of Education-identified key legislative and policy components?; (2) To what extent do states' model bullying policies cover U.S. Department of Education-identified key legislative and policy components?; (3) To what extent do school districts' bullying policies cover U.S. Department of Education-identified school district policy subcomponents?; and (4) How are state laws translated into practice at the school level? Key findings include: (1) Forty-six states have bullying laws and 45 of those laws direct school districts to adopt bullying policies. However, three of the 46 states prohibit bullying without defining the behavior that is prohibited; (2) Thirty-six states include provisions in their education codes prohibiting cyberbullying or bullying using electronic media. Thirteen states specify that schools have jurisdiction over off-campus behavior if it creates a hostile school environment; (3) Forty-one states have created model bullying policies, 12 of which were not mandated to do so under law. Three other states, including Hawaii, Montana, and Michigan, also developed model policies in the absence of state bullying legislation; and (4) Among the 20 school district bullying policies reviewed in this study, districts located in states with more expansive legislation produced the most expansive school district policies. However, several school districts in states with less expansive laws also substantially expanded the scope and content of their policies beyond the minimum legal expectations. Appended are: (1) U.S. Department of Education Dear Colleague Letter Summarizing Examples of Department Key Components of State Anti-Bullying Laws; (2) Summary of Bullying Legislation, State Statutes, and Model Policies; (3) Bullying and Related Terms as Defined in State Legislation; (4) Definitions of Cyberbullying and Electronic Communications in State Legislation; (5) State Model Policies and Guidance by Legislative Requirement; and (6) Definitions of Bullying: Within-State Comparisons Among State Legislation, State Model Policies, and School District Policies. Individual chapters contain footnotes. (Contains 35 exhibits and 23 endnotes.) [This paper was prepared with EMT Associates.]
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, US Department of Education. Available from: ED Pubs. Education Publications Center, US Department of Education, NTIS, P.O. Box 22207, Alexandria, VA 22304. Tel: 877-433-7827; Fax: 703-605-6794; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (ED), Policy and Program Studies Service