The U.S. Department of Education says school policies against bullying have improved, but still have a long way to go. That’s based on a new report by the Department published today that looked at the 46 states with anti-bullying policies, including Ohio.
In a press release sent out with the study, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said “every state should have effective bullying prevention efforts in place to protect children inside and outside of school. This report reveals that while most states have enacted legislation around this important issue, a great deal of work remains to ensure adults are doing everything possible to keep our kids safe.”
The report outlines a few areas where Ohio falls short in its anti-bullying efforts.
- CREATE A CYBER-BULLYING POLICY
Currently, 36 states have policies that protect against cyber-bullying. That can be anything from threats on Facebook to taunting in a chat room.
- COMPILE DATA AT THE STATE LEVEL
The report also pointed out that although Ohio requires school districts to compile data on school bullying, it does not ask the districts to submit that data to the U.S. Department of Education.
About one-third of states require school districts to compile and report data involving incidents of bullying behavior on their school campuses through legislation, although recent amendments to state laws have added data-reporting provisions. Sixteen states now require that bullying incident data maintained by local districts be reported to the state board of education. A few states also mandate that state boards compile district data into formal reports that are posted publicly or reported to the state legislature. Two states only require districts to compile incident data locally. For example, the state of Ohio requires district offices to compile a written summary of reported Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies.
The report also encourages states to make this kind of data available to the public.
- WRITE A MORE DETAILED SAMPLE POLICY
The report found that states with more detailed anti-bullying policies on the state level tend to have better anti-bullying policies on the local level.
Furthermore, according to the study,”additional detail encourages implementation with greater fidelity to the intention of the laws.”
So, basically, the more thorough the state policy, the better written and enforced those policies will be on the ground.
- PROVIDE TRAINING FOR TEACHERS
The study also found that “research has demonstrated that school personnel are often unaware of how to respond to bullying, thereby necessitating training.”
Just a few months ago, cell phone video of a gay teen getting beaten up in an Ohio school went viral.
The incident prompted advocates of gay students to call for improved anti-bullying rules in Ohio. They maintain the state’s sample policy and requirements are too broad, and don’t contain any enforcement mechanism.
- There is a proposed law stalled in the Ohio legislature that would require teachers and school administrators to get regular training about bullying, how to prevent it, and what to do if it happens.
You can read the entire study, and see how Ohio stacks up to other states, here.