Massachusetts enacted a new anti-bullying law May 4, 2010, that strengthens anti-bullying education in student handbooks and classroom instruction, creates new rules for reporting incidents of bullying, and provides training for all adults in schools on how to identify, prevent, and manage incidents of bullying.
Ellen Miller from the office of District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s Community and School Outreach Program told a WSU audience of current and future educators what the new law means and how educators can advocate for and protect students from bullying.
She stressed the importance of conveying to students the impact of technology on bullying.
“Once you click ‘post’ or ‘send,'” Miller said, “You should imagine how you would feel if that post were in your principal’s office or on your refrigerator at home.”
She noted that many people say and post things on line that they would never say face-to-face. She said she counsels young people to report bullying or harassment to an adult they trust.
In speaking to WSU students studying to be teachers and current educators, Miller noted that they are, or will be, those adults to be trusted.
The Department of Education reports that 25 percent of American students say they are bullied at least once a day. Children who bully are at risk for engaging in more serious violent and criminal behaviors. Victims of bullying are at risk of thinking about or attempting suicide.
Cyberbullying has dramatically changed the nature of bullying according to Miller.
“It used to be, that if you were bullied at school, you could at least go home and feel safe,” said Miller. “Not anymore. When victims of bullying go home after school, they have not entered a haven. They may open their Facebook page and find mean messages on their wall, or receive bullying text messages on their phone.”
Miller’s talk was sponsored by the WSU Education Department.
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