ABILENE, Texas - State lawmakers passed an anti-bullying law in 2011 and school districts across the State are working to comply with its requirements for the 2012-2013 school year.
The anti-bullying law is based on House Bill 1942 and provides a new definition for bullying along with new guidelines for schools.
Abilene Independent School District officials said they are most excited about how it will help them identify bullying.
"I think it changes everything, because it just gives you more perspective, more clarity, more definition," Kari Leong, AISD director of student services said.
The new definition of bullying provides educators with a more clear and expanded definition of bullying.
Leong noted three major changes.
"It added the concept of bullying through electronic means. There's a section that talks about bullying being persistent and it says, 'and pervasive'. And then the third one is it talks about exploiting an imbalance of power," she said.
"We don't want bullying to occur on our campus and we want our kids to have a successful and safe school year. So we are going to do everything that we can to ensure that," Leong said.
Among many things, the law requires educators to outline reporting procedures and to investigate each claim. Leong said AISD already does all of that.
"We encourage if a student or witness knows of a bullying case, it has to be reported," she said.
Leong said AISD takes a proactive approach toward bullying.
"We've got lots of community help that come in and they give us information, present programs to our students," she said. "This is a team effort. It's community, it's schools, it's parents. And we're all gonna work on this together."
Students who are caught bullying will be subject to disciplinary action; however, Leong said penalties are assessed on a case-by-case basis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of high school students reported being bullied on campus and 16 percent reported being bullied through electronic means in 2011.
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