The International Bullying Prevention Association, which represents researchers and practitioners working towards engaging the global community in bullying prevention and intervention, today denounced newly proposed regulations to modify the definitions and evidentiary standards for sexual harassment as covered under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
“In 2010 the U.S. Department of Education made great impact by making clear that schools are obligated to address many instances of bullying when they overlap with harassment based on sex, race, and disability,” said Lynn Lonsway, Executive Director of the International Bullying Prevention Association. “Since 2007, we’ve seen significant declines in the number of students who report being bullied in the previous year, due in large part to federal leadership in this area. The narrow definition of harassment contained in the proposed regulations could curtail these positive trends by suggesting it is not a school’s responsibility to address the broad range of bullying behaviors.”
“In 2010 the U.S. Department of Education made great impact by making clear that schools are obligated to address many instances of bullying when they overlap with harassment based on sex, race, and disability”
Under the proposed definition, only behavior that is “severe, persistent, and objectively offensive” can constitute sexual harassment. Under guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010, the definition of harassment covered under Title IX, Title VI, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes any behavior based on sex, race, or disability that “creates a hostile environment when the conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent,” a far broader standard than the proposed regulations. The proposed regulations further limit schools’ obligation to investigate and respond to harassment to cases where students or their parents directly report incidents to teachers or other officials; response is not required when no formal report is made. According to the 2015 federal School Crime Supplement, nearly 3 in 5 students who are bullied did not tell an adult.
Under the proposed definition, only behavior that is “severe, persistent, and objectively offensive” can constitute sexual harassment.
The International Bullying Prevention Association was founded in 2003 when grassroots practitioners and researchers came together to convene the first conference in the US entirely focused on bullying prevention. Since then, it has grown to be the premier global membership organization dedicated to advancing bullying prevention best practices.
IBPA, PO Box 9917, Troy, MI 48099, firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Contact – Lynn Lonsway, Executive Director, International Bullying Prevention Association, (800)929-0397, email@example.com