The U.S. Department of Education released today Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies, a new report summarizing current approaches in the 46 states with anti-bullying laws and the 41 states that have created anti-bullying policies as models for schools.
The report shows the prevalence of state efforts to combat bullying over the last several years. From 1999 to 2010, more than 120 bills were enacted by state legislatures from across the country to either introduce or amend statutes that address bullying and related behaviors in schools. Twenty-one new bills were enacted in 2010 and eight additional bills were signed into law through April 30, 2011.
Out of the 46 states with anti-bullying laws in place, 36 have provisions that prohibit cyber bullying and 13 have statutes that grant schools the authority to address off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.
“Every state should have effective bullying prevention efforts in place to protect children inside and outside of school,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This report reveals that while most states have enacted legislation around this important issue, a great deal of work remains to ensure adults are doing everything possible to keep our kids safe.”
The first Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit, hosted in August 2010 by the Department and other federal agencies, exposed an information gap regarding anti-bullying laws and policies across the country. The summit brought together government officials, researchers, policymakers, and education practitioners to explore strategies to combat bullying in schools. To address this information gap and respond to requests for technical assistance, the Department composed Anti-Bullying Policies: Examples of Provisions in State Laws, a guidance document outlining common key components of state anti-bullying laws.
Following the Summit, the Department’s Policy and Program Studies Service contracted researchers to compile the analysis on state laws and policies. In preparing the report, researchers reviewed and coded legislation and policy documents in every state across the country along with an additional sample of 20 local school districts. The report sought to address the extent to which states’ bullying laws and model policies contained the key components identified in the December guidance. A follow-up study will aim to identify how state laws translate into practice at the school level.