(Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)
Governor Deval Patrick today signed into law a sweeping measure to crack down on school bullying across the state.
The law prohibits any actions that could cause emotional or physical harm to students, including text messages and taunting over the Internet. It also mandates antibullying training, for faculty as well as students, and requires that parents be informed of incidents at school.
It also requires every school employee, including custodians and cafeteria workers, report incidents of suspected bullying and that principals investigate each case.
"As governor and as a parent, I feel strongly that no child should feel threatened or unsafe in our schools," said Patrick, who was joined on the podium by third-graders from East Brookfield Elementary School, along with government and political officials.
The deaths of Phoebe Prince, a South Hadley High School student who hanged herself in January amid relentless harassment from other students, and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a Springfield 11-year-old who took his own life last year after being bullied, sparked a public outcry over school bullying and galvanized support for the legislation.
Patrick and lawmakers say the new rules, particularly those mandating that all bullying be reported, will help protect students who now feel they have nowhere to turn.
On the beat
Columnist Adrian Walker says UMass Dartmouth is shaken after revelations that one of the Marathon bomb suspects was a student there. Read more