In the wake of two youth suicides blamed on torment by classmates, the state of Massachusetts released a model plan to help local officials craft their own policies to combat bullying.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's plan is meant as a blueprint for public and private schools that are required to comply with a new state law. "The release of this model plan is an important step toward changing school climates and fostering an environment of respect, but the important work of implementation remains ahead of us,'' said state Rep. Martha Walz, co-chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Education and author of the anti-bullying legislation. "The true success of this model plan will be measured in how well schools successfully prevent bullying."
The plan calls for schools and districts to train faculty and students, and notify the parents of both bullies and their victims of incidents. It also calls for school staff to report - and principals to investigate - not only incidents that occur on school grounds, but also ones that occur on buses and at school-sponsored events, as well as off-campus cyberbullying that creates a hostile environment at school. School districts must submit a copy of their bullying prevention and intervention plans to the state Department of Education by Dec. 31.