The article described what the anti-bullying bill addressed:
The 12-page bill prohibits bullying on school grounds, school buses, at school-sponsored activities, and through the use of electronic communications.
The bill also bans retaliation against someone who reports bullying.
Under the bill, teachers and other school employees must report any bullying incidents to the principal. The principal must investigate those reports, take disciplinary action, notify parents of the victim and aggressor and alert police if necessary.
Each school district, charter school or private school must provide instruction on bullying prevention in each grade, according to the bill.
While I'm usually wary of giving teachers more work to do, I believe that this is important enough to warrant the extra time and training. Bullying is something that far too many people feel is a normal part of school, and so the situations do not get addressed most of the time.
I didn't realize just how tumultuous a topic Bullying was until I inadvertently started a discussion in a Community Psychology class I took about ten years ago. We were studying how Community Psychologists deal with violence in schools. As our professor talked about stabbings and shootings, it dawned on me that this was antithetical to what Community Psychology was supposed to be about. Community Psychologists focus on prevention first, then give attention to secondary issues (the problem is just beginning), and the least to tertiary issues (when the problem has been going on for years). I raised my hand and innocently asked what was being done to prevent the violence, such as addressing bullying. My professor said, sadly, very little is being done about bullying. Despite his words, my question started a heated discussion. It was like I dropped a lit match onto a gasoline soaked floor.
Half the room passionately felt that Bullying was a serious problem and should be addressed by schools and psychiatrists. The other half of the room argued that Bullying was normal, and did not cause any lasting damage; Bullying is simply part of growing up. Mind you, I was taking the course to satisfy a general education requirement, however, most of my classmates were Psychology majors. I was disturbed, profoundly, by how so many budding psychologists were so unsympathetic to bully victims.
I decided to use Bullying in Schools as my research topic. What I found was even more disturbing. Very few psychologists in America (at that time, at least, which was about ten years ago) studied Bullying. Out of necessity, I had to supplement my research with some studies from Europe and Australia. One of the common findings was how bully victims continued to suffer even into adulthood.
I'm thrilled that lawmakers in Massachusetts have put anti-bullying policies into law. Whether Bullying is normal or not, is material. Children shouldn't be scared to go to school. They shouldn't be victimized by their classmates while adults look on and do nothing. Perhaps many of you will feel that the legislature has overstepped their bounds; that schools should have more control over how to handle Bullying; that there's no way to ever make our schools one hundred percent safe.
I might agree if I felt that schools adequately addressed Bullying on their own. Since they haven't, I hope California follows with their own twelve page bill.