On Sunday, July 3 I finished looking at the final twenty anti-bullying policies in my last state. I have now looked at a grand total of 360 policies in eighteen states. Here is a very brief overview of the final nine states:
Georgia: The anti-bullying policies that I looked at in Georgia were all very general. There was a little bit of a variety in the language of the policies, but not much. There were a few policies that defined bullying in two sentences or less, but for the most part school districts defined bullying in the exact same terms. I found three heartbreaking articles about students who had committed suicide due to severe bullying and a handful of other bullying related incidents in schools across the state.
Minnesota: Our neighbors are widely criticized for having one of the weakest anti-bullying laws in the country and this is reflected in school district policies. A few school districts only had an anti-harassment policy in place. However, the majority of districts had identical bullying policies. None of the policies protected characteristics of any kind.
Kansas: Bullying policies in Kansas vary widely from district to district. Only one school district that I encountered protected students on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, mental, physical, or sensory disability or impairment while the majority of others did not protect any characteristics. Four districts had more of a bullying prevention plan in place than a policy in that bullying wasn’t defined, reporting procedures weren’t discussed, etc. This leads me to believe that these districts have yet to implement a bullying policy and what is currently posted on their websites is only temporary.
Ohio: School districts in Ohio have very similar bullying policies. There was little to no variation in language. Gender, race, color, national origin, marital status and disability are the characteristics that the majority of districts protected in their policies.
Illinois: School district policies in Illinois are nearly identical. They are very specific and inclusive. I encountered some difficulties finding bullying incidents in my Google searches, which points to underreporting. There has to be bullying occurring in Illinois, the incidents just weren’t highly publicized. The majority of the policies protected students on the basis of race, color, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender-related identity or expression, ancestry, age, religion, physical or mental disability, order of protection status, status of being homeless, actual or potential marital or parental status, and pregnancy.
Pennsylvania: In Pennsylvania, there are very specific harassment policies in place. The definition of what constitutes harassment in Pennsylvania school districts is equivalent to what constitutes bullying in other states. Districts do have bullying and cyberbullying policies in place, but their harassment policies are the ones that include and protect student characteristics.
New York: Nine of the twenty school districts in New York did not have their policies posted online. The state’s anti-bullying legislation does not require districts to have a bullying policy implemented until July 1, 2012, which could be why there were so many districts that didn’t have anything online. As for the school districts that did have policies online, some had anti-harassment/discrimination policies in place while others had meidocre bullying policies.
Rhode Island: Policies in Rhode Island vary a lot from district to district. Such a variety makes it an interesting state to analyze in further detail. I noticed that a few school district policies were really outdated while others had been updated this year. It comes as no surprise that the recently updated policies were much more specific and inclusive. They included such characteristics as sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability (physical, mental, educational), marital status, socioeconomic background, ancestry, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, linguistic preference, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and social/family background.
New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, there was no variety between school district bullying policies. Nearly all of the policies were identical and described bullying as: “A single significant incident or a pattern of incidents involving a written, verbal, or electronic communication, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another pupil which physically harms a pupil or damages the pupil’s property; causes emotional distress to a pupil; interferes with a pupil’s educational opportunities; creates a hostile educational environment; or substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.” They also protected students on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical, mental, emotional or learning disability, gender, gender identity and expression, and appearance.
My next task is to contact the school districts that did not have their bullying policies available online, didn’t have a website, etc. I hope that this process goes smoothly and whomever I speak to will be able to provide me with the information I need.
Until next time!