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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

What Should Your School's Bullying Policy Look Like?

Source: Cyberbullying Research Center

We are regularly contacted by school administrators, board members, parents and others with questions about school bullying policies. In fact, a few months ago the principal at my son’s elementary school asked me to review their bullying policy. I am always happy to help, with the preemptive caveat that I am not a lawyer and therefore my feedback should be viewed as suggestive rather than definitive. But I have seen lots of bullying policies over the last 15 years. And some are plainly better than others.
In an effort to better understand the landscape of bullying policies across the United States, Sameer and I (along with one of my students) recently reviewed all of the state model bullying policies that we could find (they are usually put out by a state’s Department of Education). We were able to locate model policies for thirty-nine states. When we couldn’t find a model policy for a state, we reviewed their state law to see if certain provisions were required in school bullying policies. Schools aren’t generally required to adopt the specific language offered in a model policy, but no doubt these policies serve as a template for schools in the state and deviating from them in substantial ways could open a school up to criticism.

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