October is Anti-Bullying Awareness month, and many states have taken action by passing laws addressing this important issue. Alabama is one of these states that passed a law last spring in which school districts were to comply with certain anti-bullying guidelines. However, the school districts still haven’t received the instructions about how they are to do so.
The new law expanded the definition of what constitutes harassment. It also addressed what school’s responsibilities are with regard to bullying, even if the bullying did not take place at the school. The law applied to both traditional bullying and bullying over the Internet or other cyber-platforms. The law also mandated that at the beginning of each school year, schools should implement anti-bullying programs. In addition, law mandated that schools review their policies regarding bullying and update them if necessary to comply with state guidelines.
However, more than a month after these changes were to be met, these guidelines still haven’t been given to schools. Even the website for the state Department of Education hasn’t been updated since 2014. Thus, schools cannot access the new guidelines online. According to the state Department of Education, the delay is because the guidelines have not yet received approval from Alabama’s new state superintendent.
While it is good that Alabama has taken steps to address bullying, any delays in implementing these new laws may come too little, too late for children who are currently the victims of bullying. Bullying can cause harm that could last a lifetime. No child’s life should be put in danger due to bullying. Therefore, it is important to take the steps needed to hold those responsible for the bullying accountable for their actions.