Legislation Toughens Stance on Bullying
Legislation Toughens Stance on Bullying

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Legislation Toughens Stance on Bullying

Legislation Toughens Stance on Bullying

On July 13, 2011, the governor of Connecticut signed an act strengthening school anti-bullying laws, adding to laws that had last been updated in 2008. Under the new law, all school employees, including bus drivers and cafeteria staff, must receive training on prevention of and response to bullying.

The new law also gives time limits for staff and school officials to react and investigate reports of bullying, and provides a new definition for what constitutes bullying.

Connecticut's new law expands the scope of bullying, adding cyber-bullying to the definition. The new law includes the repeated use of any "oral, written, or electronic communication" directed at or sent to another student in the same school district, and any "physical act or gesture" aimed at another student in the same school district, that causes harm to the student or his property, puts the student in fear of harm to himself or his property, creates a hostile environment at his school, infringes his rights at school or disrupts his educational process.

The harm alleged does not have to be physical, but can be emotional as well

Previously, prior incidents or evidence of bullying were not considered with each new school year and the bully from last year began each year with a "clean slate." Under the new law, a person's history of bullying other students from past years can be used to determine if his actions constitute bullying in the present.

School employees have one day to orally report incidents of bullying to school officials, and three days to provide a written report. In turn, schools must promptly investigate any allegation of bullying and, within two days after the investigation is complete, must inform the parents of the involved students of the action that will be taken.

Schools are not limited in their obligation to respond if the bullying occurs off-campus. School officials must investigate alleged bullying at school, online, at bus stops, on the school bus, at school-related functions or away from school.

The school must respond to occurrences outside of school if the bullying creates a hostile environment for the bullied student while at school, infringes on his rights while at school, disrupts the bullied student's education, or impedes the school's ability to keep order on campus.

Thus, bullies can no longer get away with bullying by performing their actions outside of the school environment if their actions ultimately affect the bullied student while he is at school.