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Massachusetts Says YES to Anti-Bullying Law

At a ceremony Monday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law the state’s comprehensive anti-bullying measure, which requires schools to notify parents about harassment, and requires staff and faculty to undergo trainings. Some thirty third-graders and Sirdeaner Walker, the mother of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, who took his life last year after taunts about his perceived sexuality, were on hand to witness Patrick’s signature. An early happy Mother’s Day to you, Sirdeaner. You’re one of the great ones.

On:           May 5, 2010
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    • Baxter

      Hooray for taking away First Amendment rights from children! Expect to see a bunch of lawsuits.

      May 5, 2010 at 10:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tina

      …..what? taking away rights? How does that make ANY sense?

      May 5, 2010 at 10:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Baxter

      @Tina: The Supreme Court has made it clear that while schools can restrict student free speech if it’s disruptive to the learning environment, that power does not extend outside of school grounds/events.

      This law, on the other hand, requires schools to punish bullying that occurs “at a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related, or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by a school district or school, if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringes on the rights of the victim at school or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school”. This is a huge overreach and will lead to lots of lawsuits when children are suspended from school for things they said while not on school grounds or at school events.

      Outside of school, children have just as much of a right to say unpleasant things to people as adults do. Even inside of school, the burden is on the school to prove that the student’s speech “materially and substantially disrupts the work and discipline of the school” (TInker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District). Since this law makes no attempt to differentiate between harmless teasing and full-on bullying, providing an incredibly vague definition of bullying, it will lead to lots of non-disruptive student speech being stifled.

      May 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike

      Baxter, you are an idiot! In the real world, if you consistently harass and make threats towards someone you can get in trouble with the law! There is a difference between ‘free speech’ and harassment. How dare you! What is ‘harmless teasing’? You’re a disgusting person, please do everyone a favor and jump off a cliff. How is that for free speech? D-bag.

      May 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

      Three huzzahs! for Massachusetts’ progressive spirit, truly a model State.

      May 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Baxter

      @Mike: So you think that children shouldn’t be allowed to say unpleasant things to each other outside of school, but that you should be allowed to tell me to kill myself? Luckily the Supreme Court doesn’t agree with your belief that children are second-class citizens, because the First Amendment’s protection for free speech applies equally to both children and adults.

      May 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike


      Again, there is a difference between free speech and harassment! I am VERY proud of the people in Massachusetts. The rest of the nation can definitely learn a think or two from that state. I still think you should jump off a cliff or light yourself on fire. Since you are for ‘free speech’, you wouldn’t mind if I sent you threatening e-mails non-stop for the next three months, called your house 20 times a day, and stalked you on socially networking sites so I may insult you? I mean, it is my free speech after all? right?

      May 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tina

      You cant extrapolate like that…if the kids are making threatening communications, online or not, its creating an unsafe environment at the school and this gives the school the power to preserve the safety.

      When I was in high school I was assaulted while on a cross-country practice run. My attacker was a student, but it was off campus (about a half mile away). I reported it to the police, and because it was off campus, the school couldn’t do anything about it – unless he got arrested. Lucky me, he did get arrested. The school was able to boot him out…

      May 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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