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New Anti-Bullying Guidelines in ND Schools - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

New Anti-Bullying Guidelines in ND Schools

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A new anti-bullying state law went into effect this school year meant to beef up existing school policies, and here's how it breaks down:

1) It requires school districts to establish procedures for reporting, investigating, and documenting bullying.

2) Schools must set up disciplinary measures and consequences for legitimate bullies.

3) Schools also have to establish ways to protect a victim of such attacks.

4) If a report turns out to be false, there must also be disciplinary measures against the accuser.

Bullying has changed greatly through the years, and electronic bullying is the predominant form today; while bullying is still prevalent in school, it's largely moved from hallways and locker bays to places in cyberspace like Facebook and Twitter, where it's much more difficult for school officials to crack down on perpetrators.

"It's an escape route!," says Fargo North senior Morgan Shelton. "If you can say it online or in a text, but you can't sat it to somebody in person, you're not big enough to be saying it at all."

Yet many kids don't even see cyber attacks as true "bullying."

In response to the new legislation and the changing nature of bullying, schools are fighting back by kick-starting a new way to report bullying in the very place it's occurring.

As a teacher, counselor and administrator, assistant superintendent of Fargo schools Nancy Jordheim has seen the worst that teens can do to one another, but she says their fight has now largely gone "underground," with many bullies operating online off campus, at night, and under pseudonyms.

This makes it much more difficult for schools to identify guilty parties, much less discipline them. "How much a school can do in response to [online bullying] is limited when it didn't happen on our property, or maybe doesn't involve kids that are all our kids," Jordheim explains.

In response, school districts like Fargo's are getting savvy and going online to combat bullying. Should they witness an incident of bullying, students, parents, and staff can now fill out a detailed form on their district website. It is the districts' hope that this new option will help to take away much of the hesitation felt by students who may not want to be seen as tattle tales.

Bullying reports will be kept in district-wide databases in an effort to track where bullying happens and who is doing it.

On top of the new law, the Grand Forks school district just got a $2 million dollar grant from the Department of Justice to help prevent bullying.

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