So you’re an Indiana school with a bullying problem. What do you do about it?
Schools in places like Oregon, Connecticut, and Illinois can turn to the state for direction. These places have model bullying policies which districts can use and manipulate to meet their needs. They also have mandatory oversight and review of bullying trends and specific legal remedies laid out in cases where bullying occurs.
Indiana has none of these.
That is one of the main findings of a report released earlier today by the US Department of Education.
The study is based on a series of criteria for evaluating the thoroughness and effectiveness of bullying legislation from all 50 states. Of sixteen measures set by the agency, Indiana met half. These ratings include things like monitoring of trouble children, legal remedies available to victims of bullying, and whether a state has an adequate system for reviewing local bullying policies.
On all of these counts, Indiana fails.
In fairness, the Indiana Department of Education has taken it upon itself to offer some bullying training to schools (including special sessions devoted to cyberbullying). It also publishes a list of expectations that parents should have of schools if they report incidents of bullying. But these recommendations do not have the force of law.