Creating a Safe School Environment Conducive to Learning: Students should feel safe from Bullies in school and on line

May 26, 2011

Hartford CT – Students in Connecticut should feel safe from bullies both in the classroom and on line as schools strive to maintain a non-threatening learning environment.

The Senate unanimously passed a more strictly-defined school bullying law. SB 1138 AN ACT CONCERNING THE STRENGTHENING OF SCHOOL BULLYING LAWS will among many things also require school districts to now include youth suicide training programs.

“We can’t afford to lose anymore valuable bright young lives,” said Senator Toni Boucher. “According to recent studies by Yale University, bully victims are between 2 and 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, an action that kills more than 4,000 teens annually.”

This new law now includes bullying via electronic communication, or devices; cyber bullying. The National Education Association reports 42% of student’s claim they have been bullied by means of the internet.

Senator Boucher believes, “The rise of cyber-bullying has made student victims fearful in their own homes. In the age of the internet and social on line media, negative bullying behavior can be spread to a wide audience for long periods of time. They are exposed even when they are not at school and sadly this has lead to teens taking their own lives because an image or a comment went viral.”

Senator Boucher commends the students in the Westport School district for moving forward with their own version of a bullying policy that tackled cyber-bullying before the legislature did. They spearheaded a comprehensive school anti-bullying initiative program and accompanying video that received widespread distribution.

The new law requires staff, working in public schools, to receive annual training in how to identify, intervene, and prevents bullying among students. However, the bill did remove all fiscal cost by eliminating data report requirements

SB 1138 also expands the definition of bullying to include any targeting of a student based on the student’s actual or perceived “differentiating” characteristics, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical appearance.

The bill makes the school principal responsible for investigating or designating someone to investigate and address bullying whether it occurs in or out-of-school, requires all school employees to report repeated bullying incidents and requires school districts to adopt safe school climate plans that includes;

  • deadlines for reporting, investigating, and notifying parents
  • prohibit retaliation against those who report bullying
  • requires school officials to notify police when they believe bullying constitutes a crime.

Senator Boucher is a ranking member of the Education Committee and represents the towns of Westport, Wilton, Ridgefield, Weston, New Canaan, Bethel and Redding.