Mass. Senate Passes Anti-Bullying Legislation

THE STATE HOUSE — Prompted by the suicide of a 15-year-old South Hadley girl, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved a bill (PDF) Thursday designed to clamp down on school bullying across the state.

Though the legislation would not criminalize the act — as critics of the bill have called for — the proposed law would prohibit bullying at schools. The legislation would further define bullying and discourage so-called cyberbullying by prohibiting the use of e-mails, text messages, Internet postings and other electronic means to target a victim.

State Sen. Robert O’Leary (D-Barnstable) chairs the Education Committee. He outlined the bill’s main provisions to WBUR on Wednesday.

“It’s requiring all schools to confront the issue. We know some (schools) are now, but not all,” O’Leary said. “And the second piece is that it gives schools the authority to deal with a new type of bullying that’s very, very pervasive, and that’s cyberbullying.”

The bill would require all Massachusetts school districts to develop a bullying prevention and intervention plan by the end of the year. School principals would also be required to report bullies to police if the principal believes that criminal charges could be pursued.

“What we say is if any of that behavior impacts on the school environment, then the school authorities have the right to sort of confront, in fact they are required to confront that behavior and put a stop to it,” O’Leary said.

A similar bill cleared the Senate last year, but languished before it could become law. But the January suicide of the South Hadley teen who was allegedly bullied by classmates has renewed interest in the issue. In April 2009, a 11-year-old boy in Springfield also committed suicide after allegedly being bullied.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • http://wbur.org Martha Crane

    We are so grateful that the Bullying Law has been passed. Our daughter has been bullied at Harwich High School. The administration was not responsive. They do not act unless they have solid evidence. They question the victim as if the bullied student is at fault. Going to school everyday is like going to war. Teen culture is so low just now. Kids treat each other very disrespectfully. Teachers do not want to get involved so they pretend that they do not hear what the kids are saying. The bullies need help too. Bystanders are afraid to advocate for the bullied student because they will be outcasts. This law will force administrators to teach the students and comply with the law.

  • Jody

    My son who is 11 years old and in 5th grade, was a victim of a bully. He was severely injured by this child, as he waited for my son to turn around before pushing him to the ground and jump on his left arm, which cause severe fractures, while in the playground at school. This child has been bulling my son and other for some time, but clearly no one had taken it serious at the school when they decided to speak up.

    I was never informed by the school principal, vice principal or any other school staff of the situation, until I demanded some answers of how my son ended up with a broken arm and in the hospital. Not only no one from the school had the decency to assure my son was “okay”, as the only one with him was a family member who I asked to go out to the school, as I clearly mention to the vice principal “I was on the road for work and was not in the area”. When I finally arrived at the hospital, I was informed of the severity of my son’s injury as he had to be transported via ambulance to Children’s hospital as Lawrence General were unable to assist him. As I later learn by son how he broke his arm, I was extremely furious as I was on and off my cell phone with the vice principal of his school. Not only was my son victimized by this bully, but also by the Guilmett School staff, who clearly were trying to “brush off” the incident.

    I am still extremely upset for the lack of poor management, supervision and protocols the schools have on such serious matter. I am so glad to know that I am able to fight this battle with other parents, and that my son, just like others “do have a voice and have rights against bulling”. However, I feel is me against an entire system, who has failed to even provide me with an incident report, as they believe they can just “swipe it under the rug”.

    The bully had his chance to be interview by the school administration, the few kids who were around during this incident had their chance to be interview, some of the staff also shared their recollections of the event, excepted my son, who is the one who was victimized and suffer the injuries, he who was push and humiliated and stomp on, who is now missing days of school, and wont be able to play baseball this year, has yet to comment and/or interview. Not even the police were informed, as the bully was able to run home, as my son lied in a hospital bed in severe pain and even may have surgery next week to put in pins. Don’t we just love how things work sometimes?

    I am glad I came across this page, as I don’t feel as alone fighting this fight. This law provides me with hope to walk in tomorrow and demand some answers from the school.

  • Julie

    Every little act of intimidation or disrespect requires a consequence. Granted, this takes a lot of effort on the part of teachers and staff, but a pre-determined system of penalties in should make it easier. If the small suff is recognized and acted upon, things won’t escalate as high. Every little thing needs to be seen and counted and have a consequense.

  • Scott

    This seems like such a good idea, but I just know some 7-year-old will end up criminally charged as a bully when all he needs is detention and proper parenting.

  • lisa la voie

    My son has been a victim of verbal, emotional, and physical bullying.The school claims the bully has the right to a public education.I would like to know what my sons rights are.

  • http://wbur.org cheryl

    My daughter has been harassed by a boy at school on several occaisions and the plan of action is for her and the bully to not have verbal or physical contact with each other (as if she ever initiated any of theese actions before). Yesterday he choose to sit behind her in an un assigned seat and repeat degrading analogies to her outloud while the teacher pretended not to notice. The teacher did send the boy out of the class for a time out earlier that day for an outburst calling a visiting teacher “stinky” but that was it. I have read our districts procedures on handling theese type of kids and believe me it is not to my satisfaction. I am starting to think that money paid to schools for underachievers and emotionally (and or just plain jerks) disturbed kids is impacting their discisions. I do realize money is hard to come by but when my straight A student is sufering because of this what does that say to her?

  • meredith

    Childhood bullies grow up to become work place bullies.
    They flourish in large corporations, small businesses and
    government jobs leaving a wake of destruction behind them.
    I pray the Healthy Work Place Bill will also be passed soon. The statistics are staggering, and while school officials had looked the other way so do employers.

  • Steve

    Working in the schools I hope for all kids to be safe. With this law the impact will again be an administrative act that has no legal backing. Schools will be required to develop teams to look at the problem. They will come up with an addition into their student handbooks (similar to the hazing law), students and/or teachers will report incidents, and discipline handed out. Now the school staff, who are not police officers or lawyers will need to determine if it may be a crime to be reported. Some school will not report some incident and the news will pick it up and the school will be blamed. In the meantime staff will continue to be laid off, have increased class sizes, and limited time to address the parental, disability, nutritional, weight, physical, emotional, homeless, and of course learning needs of the students. If you feel it is wrong that students harm other students call it what it is, assault or harassment, and let the police and prosecutors handle it as a crime.

  • Walker Griggs

    Bullying is a terrible problem, but anti-bullying legislation is a mistake. Of course physical bullying should be punished, but that is a case of assault, so that’s a different issue. The idea that kids should be treated like criminals for idle teasing that may or may not have been misinterpreted is scary and totalitarian. A study has confirmed that getting through bullying with the help of an understanding adult leads to increased social skills later in life. Please don’t persecute innocent bystanders. And last, if a loved one makes the terrible choice to take their own life, do not press charges in fear and hate on an innocent child.

  • OhHoneyHoney

    First when I read this article I didn’t know what to say..or suggest a great idea..
    I thought to offer myself in everyschool to be bulled taking the place of every bulled person at school, High school.. College..University (ups..i’m getting scared..)
    But JesusChrist did something alike and only worked for him because he’s God.. and maybe doing that could be taken as if were promoting bullying..so..When I was 11 I decided to bull to my buller singing her silly mocked invented songs in front of the class when the teacher was out..It worked.. but cause i’m not a buller..made me feel bad..So i decided keep thinking in which colors i could paint my paint book unpainted draws..I was a poor girl so i never painted my painting books.. to keep them always new and because I didn’t have the fancy color pencils all the rest had and my buller..i panited only with my mind’s imagination..My teacher was understood about my mind ..painting..abilities..yes..letting me keep my paint books as i wanted..Well every time i painted just one draw of the book…Imagine the face of my school teacher..wow.. even a green cow with pink spots was great to make her day and mine.. well
    My little brother bulled me since ever but more when he was 14 and i was 16 to..
    And we love each other very much .. i bulled him too in response.. my mother used to ticking off for that but my little brother always was the one who started believe me.. He started first..i was always a good girl..i’m..i’m He started all. He knows it..and God..He even bulled once to our cat Osita!.. She never came back to home.. And we kept we our brother.. 10 years more till he get marrried..My adorable 5 yrs old nephew sometimes bull me too..Of course there are differences in the type of bullying or buller..

    Where i was..Oh yes..

    If we see things..all we were bulled since before our conception..Just one guy was elected for our mothers to be our father..and then..we had to fight with billions and billions of spermatozoids to be here..All we had to fight before that we were born. I’d wish we could have a Buller’s Town and a Buller’s School where all just the bullers were sent and stayed And after graduate of their Buller School they couldn’t find a descent job in any respectable firm or enterprise of the world But it’s not just like that. We need to understand since we are children that we’re going to be bulled in all our life ..in Kindergarden,Primary school, High School yes..and in the University and in the Office..out in the streets.. in the bus.. by your neighbors.. even their kids..being you an adult. by a bug..a dog .. a cat ..ants.. animals are bulled and is less but sometimes there are animals that bull us too.. there are cyberbullers.. anything. So we need to be strong during all our life What a buller want? Well they want the same that all those spermatozoids wanted since before we were here. They want to be the one.. the first..They don’t like fair or unfair competition, They can’t stand to be second less third place. and they don’t care who will die or will make look bad in front of all to get to be the one in this life or to cure their complexes. They want confirm that they are the ones in all specially over the vulnerable persons. As bullers act in that way they’re acting like an animal biological thing that they can’t stop but they are able to control if they have spiritual, moral and psychologically help and for their families if they want to help to end with this animal behave.. coming from a survival instinct bad developed into an animal instinct not human with no God values ..The knowledge of God That do to the human a being it comes from God with his spirit in everyone of us. We are not animals.The only thing that is animal in our lives is our biological conception inside of our bodies and our birth but not after.The competition in life or confirmation in life is not to bother other ones or bother to death or killing the opponent or competition as war or as in the animal world.. And that’s what a buller wants not to be writing in minor as they term deserve..They want us to propitiate our death by our own hands of course because that’s the way a buller avoids jail..and as the same time..putting us out of their way.. or revenge in us of their own troubles with their lives..trying to get a feeling of insane superiority to make them feel superior over the whole people even if they are attacking a vulnerable person.. That’s the buller’s speciality.. because also ..a buller is a coward.. It’s more difficult for a buller to bull someone more tall., strong, or physical or psychologically more strong than them, so for the buller to bull ..to attack.. an innocent.. sweet and kind person..That’s enough to make them feel better or best than the rest Just imagine when the victim also of being vulnerable, kind , different of the rest, (well we are all different of the rest i have to say) ..special ,is also intelligent, brilliant and a very good human being.. The buller’s jealousy increases more..They bull to be them now or keep staying the noticed guys ..In all. To get the attention of the teacher..to not share their toys.. or if they don’t have your toys.. your lap.. car.. family, friends.. Or if they think that you are more loved for the people or for your family not being as “wonderful” that they think they are..To be first for your mom.. if we are talking about a buller brother as all we had.. To get the attention.. The brilliant job..To anulate competition for anything…for love ..for a future job for to be in that school you are now.. The bullers can’t stand the attention over other one ..The attention you already have just because you are different from the others..that special attention..The light is on you And the bullers can’t stand it. So they “need” to destroy you..and that’s what the buller is going to attack.. That you a have been noticed from the rest.. from the teacher.. And also because they weren’t taught in their homes to be tolerant with people that are different to them and respect those differences or maybe they think that their good parents are weak..when they taught them to be good with the rest of the people even if you don’t like them.. We have the right to like or dislike.. but to attack to someone that we personal don’t like for anything..could be anything and doesn’t matter.. the point is not to try or not try to like to the people.. The point is to be yourself a good people to you and for the rest.But it’s strange ..but just bullers think that this isn’t true. You can be desagree with some way of be or thinking taking your own respectable place with your life Respecting to everyone. But you can’t kill some one or provoke that a person kill itself specially if they are young over insane aggressions physical or psychological aggressions just because you are not agree with someone’s way of be or life.To expose any one’s sexual life is insane unless you are denouncing a crime in front the Official authorities ..But if you are not an FBI agent..or helping a victim to get proves in its defense..Why ..
    If you are violating people’s intimate privacy ..you are committing a crime and also you need spiritual,moral and psychological help.That’s because I propose a law that won’t put minors in jail to not pervert them more..being more evil after jail or be bulled or raped in jail or also be killed..there. I propose.. a Scholar law that expels to the bullers from theirs schools once you prove that you have been bulled with testimonies, videos, recorder tapes, witnesses. etc.. to your School authorities ..then once the bullying was proved.. The buller will be expelled form any American School immediately and their identification’s data will be in all American Schools database under the denomination of “Bullers” Not admitting them in any School of the United States of America.. for 2 years to High School bullers, 3 years to University or Collage bullers, 1 year to Primary School bullers and 6 months for Kinder garden little bullers.. Not having the right to comeback to at the same school.. and if they commit bullying again they will be expelled over and over again and again years and years. Also after their graduation in their school’s card or University, College card will be adding its Buller’s File with all their buller’s antecedents of exactly what they did or provoked with its number of case and all data in detail of what they did. No matter if you graduate from Yale your bullying data will be revealed in your University Title.. Over the Principal signature.
    During all those years of expel .. The bullers and the people who were bulled will receive psychologically support to them and to their families. The bullers will do community services reporting every week or month depends of their crime status or offense and if the buller did and was proved that committed a Federal offense or a Federal crime ,as to kill.. rape..criminal threatening, homicide attempt to the one who was bulled or to its family.. friends..the buller will be judge by its State Court as its crime was. If the Buller is minor will be spending its sentence in a minor’s jail and if there’s still more of its sentence after their 21 birthday the rest of its sentence will be in an adult jail.
    We can’t wait 21 years to have justice over bullying. And i know it’s hard for a 13 ,12 even an 18 ..years old teenage and human being to be strong against the evilness .But we have to stand still alive no matter what others do or say or show..of us We’re gonna survive as we already did it again everyday All that we were born we are already Champions and even for the evilness is too obvious..they don’t let over us any of their personal pischologicaly traumas to make them feel any insane life revenge over their own personal problems that they need to resolve with their parents education first and then with a psychology . People that were bulled. don’t get us sick of our mind and soul with the buller’s already insanity. Don’t let win to the buller killing yourself don’t do what they really want you to do. The only way to Win to the buller is living for the rest of our lives our own life .. staying alive. Living being strong no matter anything anyone do against us or to our families Live for you and live for your family that loves you no matter anything any one can do against to you. We have to remember that we have the choice of keep our life and if we kill ourselves we are letting that choice to the bullers.Don’t let the bullers win killing yourself. Sometimes justice or protection doesn’t come ever..an the damage is done or it could happen but that doesn’t mean that your life can’t be as great as you want.

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