Bullying is a serious problem facing school-aged children. In recent years, there has been increasing attention and awareness directed toward the issue of bullying in schools.
The proposed act would redefine Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying to the following;
“Harassment, intimidation or bullying” means any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory [handicap] disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property*, at any school- sponsored function [or], on a school bus, or off school grounds*
The proposed act would require schools to prevent, report, investigate, and respond to bullying. The act would also require training for teachers, school staff, and school board members. School districts would be mandated to have district anti-bullying coordinators, school anti-bullying specialists, and school safety teams (which includes a parent of a student). Every year, school districts would be required to report bullying incidents to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PA DOE). The PA DOE will give each school district and each school in the district a grade on how the school district or school is carrying out the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. School districts would be required to post the report and the grade their schools have received on their website.
The proposed act would highlight how an investigation of bullying and/or harassment is conducted. Click Here to learn more.
Examples of possible action that could be taken include:
- Providing intervention services like counseling or a peer support group
- Setting up district, school, or class-based anti-bullying programs
- Disciplinary action including suspension or expulsion.
- Changing class schedules or transportation
- School transfers
- Taking or recommending other appropriate action.
In order to be bullying, the conduct must:
- Be something that a reasonable person under the circumstances should know would have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a student or a student’s property, or putting a student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or his or her property; Insult or put down a student or group of students; or
- Create a hostile educational environment for the student by interfering with their education or severely or pervasively causing physical or emotional harm to the student.
- Bullying can be a series of incidents or a single incident. Students are not the only people who can bully others. School officials, staff, and teachers can also commit acts of bullying.