New York, NY, October 26, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Education to address bullying in schools, saying they represent "a significant step forward in protecting children from bigotry and harassment."
The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights sent a letter to thousands of school districts and colleges across the country clarifying their responsibilities with respect to student bullying.
David Waren, ADL Director of Education, issued the following statement:
The announcement by the Department of Education makes clear that bullying – and particularly bullying based on race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity – is an issue that must be taken seriously. The guidelines represent a significant step forward in protecting children from bigotry and harassment.
We are especially pleased that the department's Office of Civil Rights has rightly interpreted the federal civil rights law to protect students from anti-Semitic harassment.
Federal leadership on this important issue is critical to ensure that schools are safe places for all students, and that they help foster a culture in which bias and bullying are not tolerated. The guidelines will help community members work together to promote a civil and respectful environment for children, online as well as offline.
In August 2010, ADL called for similar guidelines in a list of policy and programming recommendations submitted to a trio of federal agencies, and participated in a Federal Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C.
In March 2010, the League joined with 12 other Jewish organizations in calling for the Department of Education Office of Legal Counsel to interpret Title VI to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and discrimination.
ADL has been at the forefront of responding to bias, bullying and cyberbullying through a combination of education and legislative advocacy, including drafting a model state bullying prevention policy which requires schools and communities to approach the issue of bullying with proactive, responsive and responsible measures. Several states, including Florida and Massachusetts have recently adopted policies based on ADL's model.
Additionally, ADL is a leader in developing anti-bias, anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying training and curriculum for teachers, parents and students. More information may be found at www.adl.org/cyberbullying.