The American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates yesterday unanimously adopted of a resolution in support of laws, policies and programs “to prevent and remediate” bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment in schools and communities.
According to an ABA report that accompanied the resolution, the new resolution “urges that officials develop sound anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies. These policies must be culturally and linguistically competent; must not inappropriately discipline offenders; and must appropriately protect and support victims of bullying. The new Resolution stresses the importance of action and collaboration by federal agencies, the private sector (including internet service providers), and non-profit organizations to combat bullying in the schools and suggests why new or amended federal laws may be necessary.”
The resolution also recommends that school districts follow the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Right’s October 2010 “Dear Colleague” letter on bullying and harassment. The department’s guidance explains educators’ legal obligations to protect students from bullying and sexual harassment and provides examples of harassment with information on how schools should respond.
“We appreciate the fact that the ABA resolution and accompanying report appropriately recognized that there is a special risk for those who are bullied because of their personal characteristics such as race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity,” said ADL Civil Rights Director Deborah M. Lauter. “We very much hope that the new ABA policy statement will prompt state and local Bar Associations, as well as individual lawyers and judges, to pay attention to this serious, national problem.”
The civil and human rights community has long been committed to help creating a safe school environment for our nation’s young people. In 2010, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, detailing recommendations to develop, fund, and promote proactive strategies to confront bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment in schools and in the community.