COUNTING CHANGE: By tracking bullying, schools can prevent it
October 25, 2013 - The following content is from a opinion column authored by State Auditor Suzanne Bump which originally appeared in the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
Too often it takes something tragic to inspire a truly novel change in government.
The 1984 death of a 19- year-old college freshman forced to gorge alcohol in a fraternity initiation rite was the motivating incident behind a law outlawing all types of hazing at all Massachusetts colleges and high schools. More recently, the suicide of Phoebe Prince after years of brutal torment lent urgency to the passage of an anti-bullying law.
Both laws were landmark legislation filling a gross void in our system of public safety. They provide our schools, children and families with the tools they need to combat bullying and hazing. However, policy is only as good as it is effective. Our current anti-bullying law lacks the requirement that bullying data be reported so that you, as policymakers, can assess the law’s effectiveness. What good is it to have a law if you do not know if it works?