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Mass. Lawmakers Pass Anti-Bullying Bill

This article is more than 10 years old.

Massachusetts lawmakers have unanimously approved a bill cracking down on school bullies and requiring teachers to report incidents of bullying to principals.

The Senate voted 38-0 and the House 159-0 to pass the legislation.

The vote follows two recent suicides of students said to be the victims of intense harassment.

"We’re going to send out a message that this kind of behavior is not acceptable and the community needs to deal with it," Sen. Robert O'Leary, D-Barnstable, said before the vote. "Everybody needs to step up and say we’re not going to put up with this any longer."

The bill prohibits bullying on school property and outlaws cyberbullying through e-mail or social media networks like Twitter or Facebook.

The bill (PDF) wouldn't punish teachers who witness bullying and don't make a report.

Last year, 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover hanged himself in his family's Springfield home. His mother said he had been harassed by classmates.

In January, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince killed herself after allegedly being bullied at South Hadley High School. A group of her classmates have been charged.

"What we have here is a piece of legislation that truly is the most comprehensive and the best piece of anti-bullying legislation in the country," Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, said before the vote.

To WBUR after the legislation's passage, Scibak added, "Getting this legislation enacted into law is going to be an important part of the healing process for my community."

Gov. Deval Patrick has called the anti-bullying bill a priority.

State House News Service contributed reporting.

This program aired on April 29, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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