On Monday, May 3, 2010, the Commonwealth joined 42 other states in the nation which have anti-bullying laws in place to protect students from the threat of harassment and bullying. The long-awaited Massachusetts anti-bullying law requires schools to create and implement prevention plans to prevent, identify and respond to bullying. Provisions of the new law require prevention plans be developed by stakeholders including teachers, staff, parents, law enforcement students and others and include procedures for reporting, responding, investigation, disciplinary action, parental notification, and training for teachers, staff, students and parents. The new law also includes tough restrictions on cyberbullying and students' use of communication technology to bully and harass others.

Five years ago, long before the passing of this legislation, District Attorney Capeless' concern for the safety and well being of students and schools prompted the launch his Bullying Prevention Initiative, which partners with schools and districts to create schools where all students feel safe and welcome.

Mr. Capeless was recently nominated by his fellow District Attorneys to represent the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association on a seven member multi-agency commission charged with conducting a review of the general laws and proposing changes to reflect an appropriate criminal component to the new law. The commission will also investigate parental responsibility and liability for bullying and cyberbullying and report its findings and recommendations to the general court.

Capeless said, "Keeping students safe and creating schools where everyone belongs has been a priority of mine. Students who don't feel safe and secure cannot learn to their potential. Our work with schools providing awareness and education has helped us get out in front of some difficult issues and problems caused by these hurtful behaviors. I whole heartedly support this new legislation and I am pleased to accept the nomination to serve on this important commission."

The District Attorney's Office is conducting trainings in June to work with 20 area schools' Prevention Committees to help them prepare for the 2010 - 2011 academic school year.