Posted on Sep 01, 2011
What is considered to be the toughest legislation against bullying in the nation, New Jersey's "Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights" goes into effect today, just in time for the new school year, reports the NY Times. As in many laws passed by states, such as the move for many jurisdictions (including NJ) to have a Caylee's Law, this one arose out of a public outcry over the suicide of Rutgers University freshman, Tyler Clementi, nearly a year ago. This new law requires that all public schools:
  • adopt comprehensive antibullying policies
  • increase staff training
  • adhere to tight deadlines for reporting episodes, and
  • designate an antibullying specialist to investigate complaints.
In addition, each district must have an anti-bullying coordinator. As for oversight, the State Education Department will evaluate every effort and post "grades" on its web site. Superintendents have said that educators who failed to comply could lose their licenses.

The problem with the law, some have observed, is its scope and the burden it puts on the ever more limited resources of schools and school districts. This is because bullying occurs not only in classrooms and playgrounds, but online as well. Richard G. Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, observed in the article: "Now we have to police the community 24 hours a day. Where are the people and the resources to do this?"  The terms of the law have promped many to say that it goes too far.

How effective this law is in reducing incidents of bullying remains to be seen, as well as how practical its requirements are in implementation. Only time will tell.

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