For Immediate Release - November 15, 2011

Bullying Prevention Commission Meets with School Officials on Implementation of Bullying Law

Commission hears from principals, teachers, school safety officials who are tasked with implementing bullying law

BOSTON – Yesterday, school personnel from across the state, including principals, teachers, and school safety officials, spoke to the Commission on Bullying Prevention (“The Commission”) about their experiences in implementing the state’s new anti-bullying law on a daily basis.

“Bullying is a pervasive problem that affects children and adolescents of all ages, and one that requires a comprehensive and collaborative effort among parents, teachers, principals and law enforcement to properly address,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley.  “We are grateful to the school officials who joined us yesterday to offer insight about the day-to-day experiences they’ve had in implementing the anti-bullying law in their roles as principals, teachers and public safety personnel.”

The Commission, chaired by AG Coakley, was charged with reviewing the Massachusetts General Laws to consider whether any laws needed to be amended or created in order to more effectively address bullying and cyber-bullying after Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a landmark anti-bullying bill on May 3, 2010.  Although the Commission fulfilled its legislative obligation by making recommendations on its findings to the Legislature in June 2011, the Commission has decided to meet on a voluntary basis in order to continue to support bullying prevention efforts across the state and to advocate on behalf of the recommendations it made.

At the Commission meeting yesterday, school personnel discussed many issues related to implementing the anti-bullying law, including the benefit of school programs which promote and increase prosocial (non-bullying) behavior and the importance of creating school climates that communicate the importance of standing up for those who have been targets of bullying.  Other topics discussed were the need for greater parental intervention when a child has engaged in bullying behavior and the need for increased parental a wareness of cyber-bullying.  School personnel also expressed the continuing need for resources to support professional development for school staff so they have the knowledge and tools to effectively implement the anti-bullying law. 

During a legislative hearing on An Act Relative to Implementation of the School Bullying Law last month, AG Coakley urged members of the Joint Committee on Education to require schools to compile and submit annual reporting data on bullying in order to improve bullying prevention efforts in the Commonwealth.  In addition to the data reporting requirement, the bill would require schools to make explicit in their anti-bullying plans that certain categories of students are particularly vulnerable to bullying and harassment, and extend the term of the Commission by two years.

      The members of the Commission on Bullying Prevention are:

  • Martha Coakley, Chair, Massachusetts Attorney General
  • Michael Bellotti, Sheriff, Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association
  • David Capeless, Berkshire County District Attorney
  • Steve Clem, Executive Director, Association of Independent Schools in New England
  • Michael Long, General Counsel, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents
  • Mary Lyons, Police Chief, Mattapoisett, MA Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association
  • Laura Salomons, School Committee Member, Sharon, MA, Massachusetts Association of School Committees

The school personnel who spoke to the Commission on Monday were:

  • Rob Pezzella, School Safety Liaison, Worcester Public Schools
  • Steve Tuccelli, Principal, Winter Hill Community School, Somerville
  • Tom Brow, Principal, Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School
  • Laura Chesson, Principal, Maynard High School
  • Nancy Kun, 7th & 8th Grade Teacher, Argenziano School, Somerville
  • Dave Turcotte, Special Education Teacher, Newton North High School
  • Rick Tivnan, U.S. History Teacher, Malden High School