The Anti Bullying Task Force released its final annual report to Governor Chris Christie this week. The 262-page report concludes the work of the seven-person task force, which was established in March 2012 as part of an amendment to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act and was chaired by NJPSA Executive Director Patricia Wright
Over the past four years, the ABTF met regularly and focused its work on understanding the implementation of ABR. The ABTF reports that in order to sustain the progress made thus far in declining the number of incidents of HIB, each school district must continue to focus on improving school climate and create a culture of inclusivity and collaboration through the School Safety/School Climate Team.
Some of the recommendations included in this final report are as follows:
- The NJDOE should issue formal guidance to assist practitioners in understanding the significance of power imbalance in HIB.
- Practitioners should recognize that the specified list of characteristics in the ABR is not exclusive, and that they incorporate the use of power imbalance to identify a broader range of potential characteristics.
- Professional learning opportunities that target hazing and the role that sports play in a school’s climate and culture should be developed.
- School districts should adopt policies that include language surrounding the principal’s role in initiating an investigation by including language recommended by the ABTF and should remove and avoid the use of the word “discretion.”
- Each district should review its MOA to ensure proper collaboration when law enforcement intervention is appropriate and should utilize the agreed upon Uniform MOA to address issues of HIB, hazing, cyber-harassment, and sexting.
- The Legislature should annually appropriate funding of the Bullying Prevention Fund at the level equivalent to need.
- All staff should be properly trained on proper implementation of the ABR and professional learning opportunities reflecting current best practices related to a positive school climate should be developed.
- District boards of education should address the needs of their most vulnerable populations when developing policies, programs, training and procedures.
- The Secretary of Higher Education should facilitate a conversation among all institutions of higher education to share best practices in the implementation of the ABR.
- All schools should use the results of self-assessment to inform the development and annual review of their school climate plans and should avail themselves of the NJDOE online training module.
The report can be found here .