Bullying – including harassment through e-mails and text messages – will soon be outlawed in all Iowa public schools and accredited private schools, reports the Des Moines Register. The Iowa legislature passed the measure last week, and Gov. Chet Culver is expected to sign it. Schools will be required, by Sept. 1, to have procedures for reporting an act of harassment or bullying; to have procedures for collecting harassment and bullying incidence data; and to determine sanctions that can be enforced after confirmed incidents.
Bullying is defined as any conduct toward a student based on any actual trait, or perceived trait, that creates a hostile school environment that meets one or more of these conditions: places the student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or property; has a substantially detrimental effect on the student’s physical or mental health, has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s academic performance, or has the effect of substantially interfering with the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided by a school. The law also prohibits bullying via electronic communications, including e-mail, pager, cell phones, text messages, and Internet-based communication.