On Thursday (6/10/2010), WA State passed its own version of an anti-bullying law (at the same time the hands-free cell phone law went into effect...hmm...what can we make of that?) There are now 44 states in the US that have some form of anti-bullying law on the books.
I personally live in Washington State. I think it's important that we have a law clearly defining the consequences of bullying, even if the term "bullying" isn't always clearly defined. I'm not naive, however, in thinking that this is going to make any sort of appreciable dent in the problem.
According to a story posted on local NBC affiliate King5:
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction says the numbers show a small, steady increase in each of the past three school years. Numbers for this school year were not yet available.
The State OSPI is requiring schools to have their policies in place by August.
But here's something interesting. According to the survey we are doing on bullying, 80% of school principals report already having an anti-bullying policy in place (preliminary data -- the survey is still live and you can still participate). Of those, more than 70% say they've had this policy in place for than 2-3 years. 79% report having experienced bullying in their schools in the past year, in spite of having programs/policies in place. But here's the worst part: fewer than 30% of those principals rate the effectiveness of their programs as an 8 or higher, on a scale from 1-10.
I'm concerned that we continue to deal with the problem of bullying in a continuing "outside-in" approach. Let's try to manage and mitigate it rather than work on preventing it. Do we really think another law -- which is really a souped-up "policy" is going to make much difference?