What is the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act?
New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act was signed into law on January 5, 2011. The provisions of this law take effect on September 1, 2011. The law requires that:
- Every school district must adopt a new harassment, intimidation and bullying policy that is in compliance with the Act by September 1, 2011.
- Every school district must have and Anti-Bullying Coordinator and every school must have an Anti-Bullying Specialist and School Safety Team. Each of these has specific responsibilities under the law.
What has my school done to comply with the law?
The Belvidere School District has established policy and procedures to respond to this new legislation. We have appointed Mr. Joseph E. Flynn as the District Anti-Bulling Coordinator along with an Anti-Bulling Specialist at each school; Ms. Judy Black, High School, Ms. Janine Belsky, Oxford Street School and Mrs. Sue March, Third Street School. A Safety Team has been established and teacher training will be ongoing throughout the school year.
What should I do if my child is being bullied?
First, determine if the problem is truly "bullying," or if it is another form of unacceptable or mean behavior. The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act offers a specific definition of bullying which is described in school policy. Bullying behavior…
- Must be motivated by an "actual or perceived characteristic," (for example, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or other distinguishing characteristic) and bullying "substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students."
- A reasonable person should know this behavior would "have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a pupil or damaging the pupil’s property, or placing a pupil in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm."
- Bullying behavior "has the effect of insulting or demeaning a pupil or group of pupils," and "creates a hostile educational environment for the pupil by interfering with a pupil’s education or by severely or pervasively causing physical or emotional harm to the pupil."
If you are not sure whether or not a particular behavior is bullying, contact an administrator within your child’s school or Mr. Flynn, the District Coordinator to discuss your concern. Even if the behavior is not considered "bullying," the situation should be discussed and the behavior addressed if it is a cause for concern.
What if the behavior is something I believe is covered by the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act?
Acts of bullying, intimidation or harassment are reported using the school’s Incident Reporting Form. A copy of this report can be found on the web, or in the main office of your school, and should be returned to a building administrator or Mr. Flynn when complete. A report can be made anonymously; mail or return the form to the attention of your building administrator or Mr. Flynn if you wish to report anonymously or you can leave an anonymous message on Mr. Flynn’s voice mail as well. Generally, it is suggested that you contact your building administrator to discuss the concern prior to completing the written report.
What will happen if I make a report?
Once a report is made, the school will take specific steps as outlined in school policy to investigate and resolve the issue. The building administrator will discuss this in more detail when a report is made.
What is being done by our schools to prevent my child and other children from being bullied?
The Board believes that standards for pupil behavior must be set cooperatively through interaction among the pupils, parents, school employees, school administrators, school volunteers, and community representatives, producing an atmosphere that encourages pupils to grow in self-discipline. The development of this atmosphere requires respect for self and others, as well as for school district and community property on the part of pupils, staff and community members.
The Belvidere School District has a strong tradition of character education in our schools, with policies and school procedures that place respect for self and others at the center of school activities. This firm foundation for the development of personal responsibility for one’s behavior will be further enhanced through the provisions of the new Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act.
What if I have other question about the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act?
For additional questions, or to learn more about the new law, please review Board Policy 5131.4: Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying, or contact the District Bullying Prevention Coordinator.