New MO law strengthens anti-bullying policies

A new law that will require schools in Missouri to include intimidation, aggressive behavior, and harassment in their anti-bullying policies just took effect this week.

Almost 10 years ago, Megan Meier took her own life, at the age of 13.

Since then, her mother Tina has made it her mission to educate parents, students and schools about bullying prevention and internet safety.

A new Missouri law now requires all schools to publish their anti-bullying policies in student handbooks.

It also gives schools the authority to take disciplinary action against cyber-bullying, even if it happens outside of school.

“You really want to make sure kids know that it is important to understand what is bullying behavior, how you're going to be able to discipline it,” Tina Meier said.

The new law also gives clearer definitions of bullying, including intimidation, harassment, or aggressive behavior. And, it outlines how districts should respond to allegations of bullying.

“If the bullying has an effect on the school environment, then the authority of the school district extends to that conduct, even if the kid did it in his bedroom,” said attorney Robert Useted, whose firm represents four St. Louis County School Districts: Ritenour, Lindbergh, Mehlville and Fox.

“It lays out what the procedure is supposed to be for following up on the complaint, investigating it, to make sure there's no retaliation for dealing with bully,”

Meanwhile, Meier said she is encouraged by the legislation, but wants to make it clear: there is still more work to be done.

“I think with bullying and cyberbullying, we have come a long way,” Meier said.  “I think it is still a huge learning curve, though. I think we are now looking at ways legislatively, but also in the everyday, in the school climate.”

The Megan Meier foundation recently opened a new resource center for parents and students. For more information: http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/


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