Forty percent of Massachusetts school districts have not filed bullying-prevention plans, despite a Dec. 31 deadline to comply with a new law that seeks to improve protection for students, the Boston Globe reports. The law was passed amid urgent calls for action following the suicide of bullied student Phoebe Prince on Jan. 14. It requires schools to adopt clear procedures for reporting and investigating cases of bullying, as well as methods for preventing retaliation against those who report problems.
The new measure has sparked widespread debate about complex aspects of a longtime social problem, including how to define bullying, whose responsibility it is to stamp it out, and how schools can control conflict on the Internet. The law does not specify penalties for failing to file a plan by the deadline. Robert Trestan of the Anti-Defamation League was troubled by the numbers, given the publicity surrounding the new law and the fact that school districts have had since May to comply. “To change the culture, everyone needs to be on board,'' he said. “Parents are in a position to hold schools accountable, and if your district doesn't have a policy, you need to step up and ask why not.''