Bullying, its prevention, and punishment remain a major goal of the U.S. Department of Education. This fall, the federal government will begin a study project that looks at how local bullying policies are put into action in several individual school districts and states.
Around the same time, they will share the results of an analysis of current state anti-bullying laws and model policies.
State and district policies across the country vary widely and may work to protect different students in different ways. For example, a new policy adopted in Broward County, Fla., recently offers special protection for transgender students. If any employee discriminates against someone for any reason—race, ethnicity, gender, and now gender expression—they could be punished by a range of penalties from a warning to being fired.
The recently released results of the Civil Rights Data Collection, which involved about 7,000 school districts, asked those districts to report whether they have a bullying policy. When more results from the survey of schools from the 2009-10 school year are released they will include for the first time incidents of bullying and harassment and how the aggressors were punished.
And just last week, the federal departments of Education and Justice cited a small California school district for inadequate action in the bullying and harassment of an 8th grader who committed suicide in September. That was the first such action since the Education Department sent a letter to school districts in October advising them that not addressing bullying and harassment could be a violation of students’ civil rights.
But this study appears to take those efforts further: “The study will aim to identify promising strategies that school districts are implementing to combat bullying in schools. This information will be used by ED to better support bullying-prevention activities.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.