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Cyberbullying in Fed. Review of State Anti-Bullying Laws/Policies

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently released a comprehensive review of state anti-bullying laws and model policies (http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/bullying/state-bullying-laws/state-bullying-laws.pdf), which also discussed school district policy development in this space and how it reflects the impact of state laws and model policies. The report notes that 36 states now have anti-cyberbullying or “bullying by electronic means” provisions in their anti-bullying statutes or model policies. It also states that laws in 13 states extend a school’s jurisdiction to act in cyberbullying cases to behavior that takes place off-campus and off school-owned and/or managed technology if such behavior would create a hostile on-campus environment. In addition, the authors cite research illustrating the growing prevalence of cyberbullying, highlighting the fact that nearly 20% of both middle and high schools report daily or weekly problems with cyberbullying, either on- or off-campus.

While generally targeting K-12 schools and school districts, laws and policies on bullying can extend to the higher education sector, particularly in relation to cyberbullying. They may also provide useful principles and provisions for higher education institutions to use in addressing possible cyberbullying or other bullying behaviors on their campuses. Finally, as the incidence of cyberbullying grows in the K-12 sector, colleges and universities should consider how this trend might ultimately affect the institutional climate and what steps they should take to ensure potential negative impacts to student learning and development are minimized to the extent possible.

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