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The anti-bullying bill: More bureauracy and "diversity" training forced on schools

A sleazy process to address a legitimate issue

POSTED: March 10, 2010

In addition to the "hate crime" language, Bill S2283, titled "An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools" is clearly the product of an activist push.

MassResistance has been critical of the entire process of this "anti-bully bill", which has been sleazy and disingenuous. Bullying in schools appears to be a legitimate problem that may be getting worse. Over the past year two children in Massachusetts have committed suicide -- apparently resulting from bullying.

Studies have overwhelmingly shown that kids rarely bully other kids due to the victim's race, religion, color, etc. It's almost always because of psychological issues of the bully who picks his targets for myriad personal reasons.

But in the past several years, special-interest groups -- particularly major homosexual groups such as GLSEN (which pushes homosexual and transgender programs in schools) and also the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) (which promotes its obnoxious "No Place for Hate" shtick) have been actively attempting to co-opt the bullying problem in order to push own programs in states across the country. Their anti-bullying "solutions" are invariably the same old leftist "diversity training" (or worse) which do next to nothing to solve the problem. (In fact, bullying is often the worst in schools where these programs predominate.)

But these groups are very good at exploiting the parents of bullied kids to push their agendas and using the liberal press for their emotional PR campaigns. In a few states such as Michigan and Massachusetts pro-family groups confront that process, but in most places they proceed virtually unchallenged.

In Massachusetts this year the PR campaign has been unbelievable. The tragic deaths of two children have allowed the special-interest coalition to skillfully use the parents' emotional stories and ignite the most powerful media campaign we've seen in years. We've lost count of the newspaper articles and editorials, plus the TV and radio spots pushing for a strong anti-bully bill. They used the Nov. 17 public hearing as a launching pad for their PR campaign. And although MassResistance testified at the Nov. 17, 2009 public hearing on the bills, the media has almost completely ignored our side of the argument.

     Just a few of the articles over the last few weeks . . . It seems every few
     days there was something.

In a sense, their self-ignited media firestorm may have backfired somewhat. As a result of so much public discussion, bill S2283 is heavy on more bureaucracy and rather light on diversity training (which the special-interests really wanted) although the bill clearly opens the door for that over time

What S2283 does regarding anti-bullying

Besides the unrelated "hate crimes" language, Bill S2283 attempts to solve the school bullying problems by adding layers of costly bureaucracy to schools, imposing mandatory reporting by all school staff, creating openings for more homosexual and other types of "diversity" programs, and more.

Included in the bill:

  • Every school must have a comprehensive "bullying prevention and intervention plan" that is updated every two years. The bill lists over a dozen minimum provisions of the plan.
  • "Relevant" parts of the bullying plan must be sent to all parents every year in their native languages.
  • The curriculum of every grade -- from kindergarten through grade 12 -- must include "instruction on anti-bullying prevention."
  • All faculty and staff of every school in Massachusetts must be trained annually in "bullying prevention and intervention".
  • Mandatory reporting. All school employees and staff (including volunteers) are required to report "any instance of bullying or retaliation". Furthermore, the bill immunizes the "mandatory reporters" from the effects of mistaken or false accusations. (And one can see how loose conversation or innocent teasing at school will be chilled by this.)
  • The Dept. of Education must publish guidelines for kindergarten through grade 12 so schools can teach kids "to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging social situations constructively." Apparently, parents can't do this properly.
  • Schools are allowed to implement programs for "remediating any discrimination or harassment" based on "a person's membership in a legally protected category". Mass. law includes "sexual orientation" as a protected class distinction in public schools. (This would not appear to be relevant to "bullying" but was demanded by the special interest groups at the Nov. 17 public hearing.)
  • Unlike other crimes, the bill defines "bullying" not by specific acts, but by how others feel about any particular act, gesture, etc. For example, if it "creates a hostile environment."
  • Curiously, the bill references students "regardless of their status under the law," i.e., illegal aliens. Why is that necessary?

     Full text and analysis of Bill S2283

It's a lot of work for schools, administrators, and staff. Will this solve the problem? It seems like overkill for essentially trying to enforce civility among children -- a reaction to an emotional publicity campaign.

Our experience has been that the kinds of things liberals dream up to impose behavior modification in schools rarely work, and often backfire. In any case, one would think this is something that the Dept. of Education should do, rather than state legislators writing this level of detail into law.