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Liberal Boston Globe columnist reveals that new school anti-bullying law is completely ineffective

Yes, we were right . . . The evidence is continuing to come in!

POSTED: July 7, 2010

The jury is in. By all accounts MassResistance was right about the new Massachusetts "anti-bullying" law for schools which was passed unanimously by the Legislature in March with great fanfare and self-congratulation -- not to mention cheers from the Boston media. It's completely ineffective.

Through out the process, MassResistance insisted on telling the truth. We published in-depth reports outlining how it wouldn't work (and could even be counter-productive). We demonstrated how it was just a big, expensive feel-good mandate for schools that didn't address the real causes of or answers to bullying. We showed how, thanks because of the homosexual activists working closely with the Education Committee legislators, the new law largely regurgitates phony "solutions" from homosexual websites such as GLSEN, which have no actual interest in stopping bullying but instead want another vehicle to push their agenda in the schools.

As we reported, the weekend after the bill was passed the Boston Globe Magazine published a startling article by some well-regarded behavioral researchers saying that the new law would not solve the problem. But that was also largely ignored.

Globe columnist comes clean

Kevin Cullen is one of those effete left-wing (some would say "snotty liberal") Boston Globe "metro" page columnists who had joined in the hysteria to pass the bill. On the day it was passed he wrote a column titled "Bully bill survives the grind" cheering its passage -- and also bashing Brian Camenker of MassResistance for our work against it in the State House.

Well, earlier this month Cullen apparently decided to take a look around and see how the new bill is actually working out. To his credit, he wrote an honest column about it. Of course, he didn't take back what he said about us, but it's gratifying nevertheless -- even though the schools are stuck with this useless, bureaucratic albatross.

Here's his column. You've got to love it -- though we wish it had never happened.

Tough act too hollow
By Kevin Cullen
Boston Globe Metro Columnist / June 15, 2010

[Column on Globe website]

Fran Thomas Jr. was sitting in his office the other day, trying to figure out how he was going to find the money to send some of his staff to Worcester next week so they could be trained on how to implement the state's new anti-bullying law.

It costs $145 per person, which is about $145 more than Fran Thomas, the principal at Memorial Middle School in Fitchburg, has lying around.

"At least the lunch is included,'' he said.

You may remember that, a couple of months ago, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that legislative leaders said put Massachusetts on the cutting edge of combating the scourge of bullying. The new law was hailed as the best in the nation.

But when you talk to principals, the ones who are going to have to implement the new law, the reviews are not quite as rave. A lot of them don't feel any better equipped to handle bullies than they were before the law passed.

Take Fran Thomas. For the past 10 years, he's been principal at Memorial. Thomas was all for the Legislature getting tough on bullying, but when he read the law he couldn't understand why everybody up on Beacon Hill was patting each other on the back.

"Do you know what I call the new law?'' he said. "I call it 'The Principal's Paperwork Act of 2010.' ''

Thomas says the new law gives school administrators all the responsibilities and none of the tools to seriously reduce the kind of bullying that drove an 11-year-old boy from Springfield named Carl Walker-Hoover and a 15-year-old girl in South Hadley named Phoebe Prince to suicide in the past 14 months.

"The Legislature did not add bullying to the list of things that can get a kid expelled. So the most I can do to a bully is suspend them for 10 days. Expulsion is a real deterrent, but it's not in there.

"I cannot press charges if a student assaults another student as part of a pattern of bullying. The victim has to. A lot of times, the victim and their family don't want to. But my hands are tied.

"If a kid brings alcohol to school, I can expel them. If they bully another kid, if they make that kid's life a living hell, I can't do more than suspend for 10 days. That's crazy. That's not taking bullying seriously.

"Let me tell you what this new law will do: nothing. With no new funding, the schools with money will get more training than the poorer schools. Anybody who tells you different is kidding themselves. Everybody who works in schools knows this is true. But even with all the training in the world, this law doesn't allow principals to get tough with bullies.

"We can't administer any more consequences than we could before, and there is no accountability for parents, no legal repercussions for them, only the schools. Parents of the smart bullies will stick up for them and deny, obfuscate, and we'll be in the same boat. Except I'll have to fill out more reports.''

As if he didn't have enough to worry about in the hallways, Thomas now has to police cyberspace.

"The law defines cyberbullying to include someone impersonating someone else online to cause harm,'' Thomas said. "How the heck am I going to figure out if someone is impersonating someone else online?''

Legislative leaders say they put together the best package available, and there is a consensus that mandatory reporting and mandatory training will ferret out more bullies. But principals, not legislators, are on the front lines, and Fran Thomas is hardly alone as he casts a cold eye on a new law.

"I know this isn't popular to say, but here goes: The new law is a no-cost, feel-good response to a serious problem,'' Thomas said. "I'm going to generate a lot more paperwork, but I don't think I'll be able to make kids much safer.''

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at