Does Connecticut have a law to protect public school students from bullying?
Yes. The law improved significantly in 2011 with the passage of Public Act 11-232, An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 10-222d). Per the law, bullying is defined as repeated written, oral, or electronic communication, or physical acts or gestures by one or more students repeatedly directed at another student, that:
- causes the bullied student physical or emotional harm or damages their property;
- places the bullied student in reasonable fear of being harmed;
- creates a hostile school environment for the bullied student;
- infringes on the bullied student’s rights or substantially disrupts the education process or the school’s orderly operation.
The law also recognizes that students who are LGBT or are perceived to be LGBT or who associate with LGBT students are often the target of bullying (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 10-222d(a)(1)).
Per the law, each school board must develop a “safe school climate plan” that:
- prohibits bullying on school grounds, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, at a school bus stop or on a school bus, through electronic means (i.e. cyberbullying)
- prohibits discrimination and retaliation against an individual who reports or assists in the investigation of an act of bullying
- enables students to anonymously report acts of bullying
- enables parents to file written reports of suspected bullying
- requires school employees who witness bullying or receive reports of bullying to report it
- requires schools to investigate all reports of bullying and have a prevention and intervention strategy
- requires that both the parents of the bully and the parents of the victim be notified about bullying and told about the measures the school has chosen to take in response
- requires the school to notify the police about any acts of bullying that may constitute criminal conduct
- requires schools to maintain a publicly available list of the number of verified bullying incidents and to report this annually to the Connecticut State Department of Education
- requires all school employees to complete annual training on identifying, preventing and responding to bullying and to youth suicide.