New Jersey Passes Toughest Anti-Bullying Legislation in US – But how does it Prevent Bullying?

In response to Rutgers Freshman Tyler Clementi’s tragic suicide after webcam images were taken and posted of him on the internet, the New Jersey legislature passed the toughest anti-bullying legislation in the nation. Those requirements, which impact all public schools in New Jersey, go into effect today and there is plenty of debate about their practicality and effectiveness. While no one, including me, in any way is minimizing the devastating effects of the bullying on Tyler or any other child or youth, they are questioning the effectiveness of the requirements of this law and whether they would have prevented the incident that led to Tyler’s suicide.  Additionally, others in the education field are questioning the feasibility of asking schools to implement such drastic measures on already burdened schools.

The law requires every school to have an anti-bullying specialist and a safety team. It requires teachers or other school personnel to complete reports on any and all incidents within 24 hours and investigations to be started immediately and completed within 10 days. The problem is, who defines what they considering bullying and where is social media or cyberbullying, often now called digital abuse, in this effort? There are a growing number of children who are bullied via online and other digital technologies and the law doesn’t include those types of incidents at all.
My biggest concern with this legislation, while I applaud New Jersey for taking a stand, being active and doing something, is once again it is reactive rather than proactive.  It does not require an education component to prevent bullying.  There is no program being implemented to stop bullying in the first place, so kids still have to suffer from the bullying before anyone is going to intervene! The damage will already be done! The consequences unknown – FOR NOW.
With MBF Prevention Education Programs, we are attempting just the opposite.  MBF Child Safety Matters® for elementary schools, MBF Teen Safety Matters® for middle and high schools, MBF Athlete Safety Matters® for youth athletes, and MBF After-School Safety Matters™, are evidence-based/evidence-informed primary prevention programs. They educate and empower children and relevant adults with information and strategies to prevent, recognize and respond appropriately to bullying, cyberbullying, digital dangers, the four types of child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect) and exploitation. The programs include tools for parents, school personnel and the community in an attempt to empower and motivate all adults to protect children. Find our more about MBF Prevention Education Programs and how you can bring this important preventative information to your schools: Why Use Our Programs.

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The MBF Child Safety Matters program is impressive. This important information is well formulated and well presented, developmentally appropriate, and based on good understanding of literature.

The MBF Teen Safety Matters curriculum hosts an in-depth approach to important social and safety concerns relevant to youth. The program content is age-appropriate with engaging activities, jargon, and realistic situations to positively promote a relatable and impacting learning experience…Teen Safety Matters is an educational benefit to all parties involved – students, parents, facilitators, and schools.

There’s not a child in the world who can’t benefit from this program. There are so many instances where we see children who have been damaged and hurt. Things happened to them and we think, if they’d only had this program, if they’d only had the benefit of this education, that might not have happened to them. If we can prevent that from happening to a single child, then it’s worth all the effort we have put forth.

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