In June of 2011, the state of Texas passed a bill that defines bullying and has set prevention policies and procedures that must be followed, starting with this, the 2012-2013 school year.
Sec. 37.0832 of the bill (Title 2. Public Education, Subtitle G. Safe Schools, Chapter 37. Discipline; Law and Order), defines bullying and what school districts must do to combat bullying. Bullying, as per the new bill, is:
- engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district and that:
- has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property; or(
- is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.
Conduct described by Subsection (a) is considered bullying if that conduct:
- exploits an imbalance of power between the student perpetrator and the student victim through written or verbal expression or physical conduct; and
- interferes with a student’s education or substantially disrupts the operation of a school.
In order to combat bullying, schools districts must:
- adopt policies that prohibit bullying and retaliation of those who provide information about any bullying incidents (whether the person providing the information is a victim or a witness)
- establish a procedure for notifying parents and/or guardians about any bullying incidents that their children are victims of
- provide a way for students to report and receive intervention for any bullying incidents
- make counseling available to students who are bullied or who witness a bullying incident
- put a plan into place for the school to investigate bullying incidents and determine whether or not bullying occurred
- avoid punishing victims of bullying for acts of self-defense
- comply with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) as it relates to bullying of any special needs students
It is important to note that bullying now does not necessarily have to occur on school grounds or during school hours in order to be considered bullying under the new definition.
Within the Galveston/Harris county areas, most school districts are offering information about their bullying policies within Student Code of Conduct documents. Below are a list of links to school district code of conducts documents and other anti-bullying materials:
Clear Creek ISD
La Marque ISD
Santa Fe ISD: Bully prevention or to report bullying
Texas City ISD: Bullying and anti-victimization or to report bullying
For more information on bullying and harassment, the National School Boards Association offers information on their website at http://www.nsba.org/SchoolLaw/Issues/Safety
In addition, Education.com offers information about Bullying at School and Online information at their website at http://www.education.com/topic/school-bullying-teasing/