Massachusetts Legal Blog

Bullying in Today’s Society & Schools | Laws in Massachusetts | Cyber Bullying

Bullying in Today’s Society

All you have to do is turn on the news to see how prevalent bullying is in today’s society. Massachusetts enacted strict anti-bullying legislation in 2010, setting a precedent for how other states handle bullying in schools. However, despite the strict legislation, bullying does still occur and it has very serious consequences for children and families. Those consequences can be physical, emotional, and affect academics. Every child and adult has the right to feel safe in school and at work. However, bullying of any kind can take a safe and secure environment and make it a place to be dreaded and feared.

Bullying Defined

According to the Attorney General of Massachusetts and the law passed in 2010, bullying is defined as continued aggressive behavior that is indirect or direct towards another. That behavior can be physical, verbal, non-verbal, gestures and any behavior that is deemed intimidating. Bullying now includes the use of technology to harass, threaten, or intimidate someone. A recent amendment to the law also protects students from being bullied by staff members at school.
Legally Enforced Bullying Prevention Plans in Massachusetts
Every school in Massachusetts receives federal funding to address bullying. The schools are required to implement steps to prevent and deal with bullying on school grounds. According to law, schools in Massachusetts must enforce the following prevention plan steps or actions:

•    Provide a means of anonymous reporting
•    Outline measures for school staff to report bullying
•    Schools must address the immediate safety needs of a victim
•    Clear steps must be taken to investigate and respond to a bullying situation
•    Provide protection for those who report bullying incidents
•    Parent and guardian notification must be made by school
•    Disciplinary action must be taken for false reports of bullying
•    Counseling or support resources must be made available for victims
•    Training and professional development for school staff must be available

Bullying in School

The measures and action plans implemented in Massachusetts give clear guidelines for all school administrators, staff, and students to follow. Yet, it is estimated that one middle school student out of four is bullied at some point. There may be times when the school does not follow the state mandated approach for various reasons. There may also be situations when the bullying behaviors goes beyond the reaches of the school system and constitutes a civil rights violation. A no-contact order may be needed to address concerns about safety. If violated, the situation then becomes a criminal matter. The protection of the child is of the utmost concern for parents. The frightening consequences of bullying can affect victims and their families in many ways. The Law Firm of Anna Shapiro, Esq., PC can help Massachusetts residents determine if a bullying situation is being handled correctly. We can help make sure the right steps are taken and the best protections are incorporated. If you feel the steps taken by the school system or other authorities are not enough or effective, we may be able to help. Anna Shapiro, Esq., PC, will do everything possible to restore the sense of safety and security that has been compromised and protect the rights of your family.
By Anna Shapiro