|For Immediate Release|
|Tuesday, August 24, 2010|
|Contact:||JC Considine 781-338-3112|
Patrick-Murray Administration Unveils Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
MALDEN - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today released new guidance and a model plan to assist schools and districts in crafting their own strategies to respond to and prevent bullying in schools.
After Governor Deval Patrick strongly advocated for and signed An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools (Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010), the Department was charged with developing the Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan to serve as a blueprint for all public and private schools, charter schools, residential schools and collaboratives which are directed to develop local policies as part of the law.
"Schools have no greater responsibility than ensuring a safe learning environment for all children," said Governor Patrick. "With this model plan as a guide, schools and districts will be able to craft locally-developed anti-bullying plans and initiatives that strengthen protections for our students and tools for our administrators."
"Student safety has a major impact on student learning so we're committed to doing what we can as a state to help districts prevent and manage bullying in schools," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.
The model plan includes details on the roles of school leaders, required professional development for all school and district staff, identification of and access to appropriate and useful resources, development of age-appropriate instruction on bullying prevention for all grades and draft policies and procedures for reporting and responding to incidents of bullying and retaliation. The plan also suggests ways to involve families and partner with community resources.
"School should be a safe place for students," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester. "As educators and parents, we must teach children what type of behavior is acceptable, and promote a healthy understanding and respect for the rich diversity in our classrooms and communities."
"Good relationships between adults and students are the best defense against bullying but the state must play an active role in assisting districts," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "The model plan released today provides a great guide for districts to develop policies that make the most sense for them."
"The model plan not only offers schools guidance in their response to bullying behavior, but begins with the recognition that by focusing on school climate and creating a safe and respectful school environment, we can prevent much bullying behavior before it happens," said Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach.
"We have seen the tragic consequences that bullying, if left unaddressed, can have on many of our children," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "We will continue to address the root causes of bullying by bringing schools and communities together to change school climate and proactively prevent bullying in the first place. This model plan is an important tool for educators, parents and law enforcement to build upon the work they are currently doing and is another step toward developing a comprehensive approach to tackling this problem."
"I am thrilled to see the beginning phase of implementation of the anti-bullying legislation," said Senator Robert O'Leary, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Education. "With the start of the new school year approaching, schools will now have guidance in developing their own prevention plans. This is a great first step in curbing the increase in bullying we are seeing in our schools, and this will lead to increased safety and security for our students."
"This model bullying prevention and intervention plan will guide schools as they develop their own strategies to prevent bullying and respond to it appropriately when it does occur," said Representative Marty Walz, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Education and author of the anti-bullying legislation. "The release of this model plan is an important step toward changing school climates and fostering an environment of respect, but the important work of implementation remains ahead of us. The true success of this model plan will be measured in how well schools successfully prevent bullying."
The state's model plan was created in consultation with the Department of Public Health, the Department of Mental Health, the Massachusetts Office of Attorney General, the Massachusetts District Attorneys' Association, the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, the Massachusetts Advocates for Children, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, principals and other school personnel and parent and advocacy organizations.
School districts, charter schools, approved private special education day and residential schools and collaborative schools must submit a copy of their bullying prevention and intervention plans to the Department by December 31, 2010.
Additional resources, including directions on how to file a plan, are available on the Department's website at http://www.doe.mass.edu/bullying/.