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South Hadley Unveils Draft Of Anti-Bullying Policy

The South Hadley school administration has unveiled a draft of a new anti-bullying policy.

The draft made public was drawn up by a 31-person task force appointed in February after 15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself following what prosecutors described as "relentless" bullying by fellow students.

The policy would require school staff to report any instances of possible bullying to school administrators.

The Springfield Republican reports that the draft defines bullying as severe or repeated use by other students of written, verbal or electronic communication, or a physical act or gesture. It must cause physical or emotional harm, create a hostile environment, infringe on the person's rights or disrupt the educational process.

South Hadley Selectman Bob Judge says the task force chose not to require the notification of police, but the town will defer to the anti-bullying bill being finalized on Beacon Hill.

"If it does finally call for that in the final bill, then obviously our policy will be made consistent with that," Judge said.

Judge says new rules could be in place by next fall, but that changing school culture may take longer.

"We're trying to get at the behavior of people — young people and adults, frankly — which have been formed over a long period of time," Judge said. "And it's going to take a long period of time for people to change their behavior, too."

Six students are facing charges in connection with Prince's death.

The task force is scheduled to meet several more times before finalizing the policy.

This program aired on April 27, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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