What is bullying?
For too long Kentucky schools have combated the problem of bullying without the guidance of a standard definition. According to a 2011 United States Department of Education analysis of states’ bullying laws and policies, Kentucky and Alabama are the only two states to generally prohibit harassment without any mention of bullying. This session, lawmakers have the opportunity to improve existing legislation with the introduction of HB 316, which includes a standard definition of bullying and requires schools to prohibit, investigate, and respond to bullying behavior among students.
Why is this important?
As the Governor’s Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force reports, “Without a common definition, it can be challenging to determine what is and what is not bullying behavior. A definition is essential to the implementation of effective bullying policy, prevention efforts, and interventions.” While harassment and bullying may have some overlapping features, these behaviors require different prevention and response strategies to protect students and school districts from liability.
The Center for Disease Control recommends the creation of a uniform definition for bullying to support tracking occurrences of bullying over time, prevalence rates, and evaluation of prevention programs. These goals can help schools provide proven, evidence-based services, and monitor their efforts for effectiveness.
Kentucky kids deserve to feel physically and emotionally safe in and around schools. Creating a standard definition for bullying allows educators to continue building this environment for our kids.
HB 316 passed the House Education Committee and will be heard on the floor of the House.
Learn more about preventing and responding to bullying at http://www.stopbullying.gov.