International Bullying Prevention Association

International Bullying Prevention Association Statement on the Federal School Safety Commission Report

International Bullying Prevention Association Statement on the Federal School Safety Commission Report

Lynn Lonsway, the Executive Director of The International Bullying Prevention Association, which represents researchers and practitioners working towards engaging the global community in bullying prevention and intervention today released the following statement on the final report of the Federal School Safety Commission:

“Although the International Bullying Prevention Association commends the Federal School Safety Commission for recognizing cyberbullying as an important school safety issue, the recommendations provide little guidance for schools’ and states’ role in preventing the behavior. Monitoring social media or providing reporting software, for example, will be ineffective if schools are not equipped to effectively respond to identified incidents. Such measures focus on responding to behavior rather than establishing the supportive and positive environments that prevent it from occurring and mitigate harm when it does. The report also fails to emphasize the considerable overlap between bullying behaviors that occur off- and online; schools cannot address cyberbullying without also addressing in-person bullying. Further, the report references the increasing number of states moving to criminalize bullying behaviors but fails to cite the potential negative impact of such efforts including narrowing the definition of bullying, discouraging reporting and recording of incidents, and further traumatizing the children involved.

Such measures focus on responding to behavior rather than establishing the supportive and positive environments that prevent it from occurring and mitigate harm when it does.

IBPA further denounces the Commission’s recommendation to rescind critical guidance for reducing race-based disparities in school discipline. Such guidance has played a critical role in ensuring all students have access to educational opportunity and encouraging schools to examine and address underlying drivers of behavior rather than simply removing students from the classroom. The research is clear: suspensions and expulsions are not effective at addressing bullying.

IBPA further denounces the Commission’s recommendation to rescind critical guidance for reducing race-based disparities in school discipline.

Overall, it is disappointing that the Commission fails to detail specific, clear, actionable research-based prevention strategies that schools should prioritize on the front lines. Instead, their vague suggestions are largely rooted in historical misconceptions and emotion-based reactive measures (plug-and-play software solutions and bringing more youth into the juvenile or criminal justice system) – which for decades now have not borne much fruit at all.”

IBPA, PO Box 9917, Troy, MI 48099, info@bpaworld.org

Media Contact – Lynn Lonsway, Executive Director, International Bullying Prevention Association, (800)929-0397, lynn@ibpaworld.org

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