Missouri's School Bullying Problem Is Among the Worst in Nation
Ineffectiveness of School Policies to Punish BulliesBullying is generally referred to as verbal, physical, or other acts committed with the intent to harass, intimidate, or cause harm to another individual. Every state, except Montana, has some law regarding bullying. In Missouri, up until 2017, the only law was that schools needed to have an anti-bullying policy. There's not a lot of bite behind that bark. Combine that with a culture that doesn't take bullying as a crime, and one can see why the issue is so prevalent in Missouri. According to Ann Jarrett, director of teaching and learning at the Missouri National Education Association, "The thing that works is having to change the culture, working with schools, parents and students so that it becomes not socially acceptable among peers." School policies, alone, will not solve the problem.
Missouri Bullying Laws Now Have Some BiteTime will tell if Jarrett is right. In 2017, Missouri instituted a new law, making it a felony for students in Missouri to bully others at school under the laws of emotional distress, creating liability for both the school and the student-bully. In theory, this law should deter bullying. However, educators fear that criminalizing bullying could draw police into what has been a school-only matter, leading to greater jail time for students, and strengthening the school-to-prison pipeline. It does beg the question, though, that perhaps schools haven't been doing enough and it's time to take matters out of their hands. If your child, or someone you know, has been a victim of bullying, don't be part of the 96% of the adults that do nothing. Persistent bullying can lead to severe depression, violent tendencies, and even suicide. If you need help with a bullying matter, contact an education law attorney near you. Related Resources:
- Find a Local Education Law Attorney (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Should You Report Cyberbullying? (FindLaw Blotter)
- What To Do If Your Child Is Bullied (FindLaw Learn About the Law)
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