Schools in 13 states can intervene when behavior off campus creates a hostile environment at school, according to a review of state bullying laws by the U.S. Department of Education. The study also shows that many states ban cyberbullying.
Dealing with off-campus issues that end up surfacing at school has been a challenge for schools, which have been warned by the Education Department’s office for civil rights that if they don’t act in cases of suspected bullying, they could be violating students’ civil rights.
The researchers said developing provisions for responding to any off-campus speech and behavior that results in “substantial disruption of the learning environment” is important because that’s where students often commit acts of cyberbullying.
The review also rates states, 46 of which have anti-bullying laws. Of those, only Maryland and New Jersey have all the key components researchers sought. Those components include where the law applies, definitions of bullying, whether behavior such as gossip and exclusion are banned, if the law addresses cyberbullying, whether groups of students who are protected are listed, and if school districts are required to adopt anti-bullying policies.
A version of this article appeared in the December 15, 2011 edition of Education Week as Bullying Laws