- A July report found that three in ten districts lacked any kind of anti-bullying policies, but experts caution against just telling students that bullying is bad. More is required to actually prevent it.
- For example, less than 20% of districts require anti-bullying training for teachers.
- All states now have anti-bullying laws, but just 18 ban specific behaviors — a key part of effective policies.
In addition to state-level guidelines, many states require districts to also craft their own. But writing effective policies means going beyond a blanket ban. “District policies that simply say ‘bullying is wrong’ aren’t much more effective than having no policy at all,” according to Nathan Smith, director of public policy at the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, which produced the report.
Instead, he recommends banning specific behaviors, as 18 states already do, making a plan for collecting and investigating reports of harassment, and making the policy accessible. The policy should also make it clear that it applies to everyone in the school, including staff, students, and volunteers. Crucially, the policy should also remain applicable outside of school hours, during transportation to and from school, at school-sponsored events, and online. Much of the harassment students experience takes place away from direct supervision, when it can prove more difficult to crack down on.