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State laws impact bullying rates

The DOE recommended a framework for anti-bullying laws in 2010
All 50 states have school bullying laws ...though some are considered stronger than others. (Click graphic to enlarge)
All 50 states have school bullying laws ...though some are considered stronger than others. (Click graphic to enlarge)

Students living in states with an antibullying law that includes at least one U.S. Department of Education-recommended legislative component had lower reported bullying and cyberbullying rates compared to students living in states without such legal provisions, according to recent research.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2015, examined data from 25 states to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-bullying legislation on reducing students’ risk of being bullied in school and online. The DOE recommended a framework for anti-bullying laws in 2010, composed of 16 components divided into the following categories: definitions of policy, district policy development and review, mandated procedures, and strategies for communication, training and legal support.

Students in states with a least one DOE legislative component in the antibullying law had 25 percent lower rates of reported bullying, and 20 percent lower rates of reported cyberbullying, the researchers found.

The authors, led by Mark L. Hatzenbuehler of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, caution that they can only infer associations between anti-bullying policies and rates of being bullied, but cannot test causal associations.

“Bullying is a multifaceted phenomenon,” the study concludes. “Although anti-bullying policies by themselves cannot completely eradicate bullying, these data suggest that such policies represent an important part of a comprehensive strategy for preventing bullying among youth.”