Feds Tackle School Bullying

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 2:34pm

Department of Education issues warning to schools that bullying cannot be ignored.

A letter sent out by the Department of Education Tuesday details schools' legal obligations to protect students from disability, racial, sexual and gender-based harassment.

After a nationwide series of suicides by students who've been bullied, the Department of Education is now trying to make clear what schools should do.

In a conference call officials detailed the letter sent to schools across the country, giving guidance on when bullying becomes a civil rights violation.

"Anti-gay bullying can often take the form of harassment for not conforming to gender stereotypes," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said during the call "Harassment on the base of these stereotypes is prohibited sex discrimination."

All types of bullying may be more prevalent than many think.

In a new survey of over 40,000 high school students by the Josephson Institute, 55 percent of boys and 33 percent of girls admit they themselves bullied, teased or taunted someone in just the last year.

44 percent of boys and half of girls say they've been victims, while more than a quarter of public school students say they don't feel safe at school.

The administration also announced a huge conference here in Washington next year to raise awareness of the problem of bullying and talk more about how to end it.

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