The following commentary is a response to the article, “Patrick signs sweeping anti-bullying law.” The article was printed in the Boston Globe on May 3, 2010.
We applaud the state legislature and Governor for working together to sign into law a comprehensive measure to aggressively address school bullying across the Commonwealth. This legislation will undoubtedly help prevent bullying and provide a formidable legal “voice” for those who continue to endure this kind of emotional and physical harm. However, the work doesn’t begin and end in the classroom.
The anti-bullying law, with its reporting mandates, penalties, and required training for faculty and students, should be a powerful deterrent. But it is important for all of us to remind ourselves that our children do not live in a vacuum. Every environment in which young people engage – be it school, home, the baseball field, shopping mall, movie theater, camp, neighborhood hangouts, Internet, etc. – influences the development of their character and social skills.
Good, bad or indifferent, the behaviors and values students adopt are largely formed by what they observe, absorb, and learn from others in their day-to-day, direct and indirect experiences.
While the circumstances that brought this issue to the forefront are indescribably tragic, hopefully the response is inspiring more thoughtful, candid dialogue across the community on the importance of respect, tolerance, and responsibility in and out of the classroom.
Lauren C. Solotar, Ph.D.
Chief Clinical Officer