oversight

School Bullying: Extent of Legal Protections for Vulnerable Groups Needs to Be More Fully Assessed

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-05-29.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States Government Accountability Office

GAO          Report to Congressional Requesters




May 2012
             SCHOOL BULLYING

             Extent of Legal
             Protections for
             Vulnerable Groups
             Needs to Be More
             Fully Assessed




GAO-12-349
                                            May 2012

                                            SCHOOL BULLYING
                                            Extent of Legal Protections for Vulnerable Groups
                                            Needs to Be More Fully Assessed
Highlights of GAO-12-349, a report to
congressional requesters




Why GAO Did This Study                      What GAO Found
Millions of youths are estimated to be      School bullying is a serious problem, and research shows that it can have
subject to bullying in U.S. schools.        detrimental outcomes for victims, including adverse psychological and behavioral
GAO was asked to address (1) what is        outcomes. According to four nationally representative surveys conducted from
known about the prevalence of school        2005 to 2009, an estimated 20 to 28 percent of youth, primarily middle and high
bullying and its effects on victims, (2)    school-aged youths, reported they had been bullied during the survey periods.
approaches selected states and local        However, differences in definitions and questions posed to youth respondents
school districts are taking to combat       make it difficult to discern trends and affected groups. For example, the surveys
school bullying, (3) legal options          did not collect demographic information by sexual orientation or gender identity.
federal and selected state
                                            The Departments of Education (Education) and Health and Human Services
governments have in place when
                                            (HHS) are partially addressing the issue of inconsistent definitions by
bullying leads to allegations of
discrimination, and (4) key federal
                                            collaborating with other federal departments and subject matter experts to
agencies’ coordination efforts to           develop a uniform definition of bullying that can be used for research purposes.
combat school bullying. GAO reviewed        However, gaps in knowledge about the extent of bullying of youths in key
research on the prevalence and effects      demographic groups remain.
on victims; analyzed state bullying         According to Education, as of April 2012, 49 states have adopted school bullying
laws, and school district bullying          laws. The laws in the 8 states that GAO reviewed vary in who is covered and the
policies; and interviewed officials in 8    requirements placed on state agencies and school districts. For example, 6 of the
states and 6 school districts. States
                                            states cover a mix of different demographic groups, referred to as protected
were selected based on various
                                            classes, such as race and sex or gender, in their bullying laws, while 2 states do
characteristics, including student
enrollment, and their definitions of        not include any protected classes. With respect to school districts, each of the 6
bullying. Also, GAO reviewed selected       districts GAO studied adopted policies that, among other things, prohibit bullying
relevant federal and state civil rights     and describe the potential consequences for engaging in the behavior. Also,
laws, and interviewed officials from        school district officials told GAO that they developed approaches to prevent and
Education, HHS, and Justice.                respond to bullying. For example, several school officials said they implemented
                                            a prevention-oriented framework to promote positive school cultures. Both state
What GAO Recommends                         and local officials expressed concerns about various issues, including how best
GAO recommends that Education               to address incidents that occur outside of school.
compile information about state civil       Federal civil rights laws can be used to provide protections against bullying in
rights laws and procedures that relate      certain circumstances, but certain vulnerable groups are not covered and
to bullying, and inform complainants        therefore have no recourse at the federal level. For example, federal agencies
about state legal options; Education,       lack jurisdiction under civil rights statutes to pursue discrimination cases based
HHS, and Justice develop information        solely on socioeconomic status or sexual orientation. While some state civil rights
about bullied demographic groups in
                                            laws provide protections to victims of bullying that go beyond federal law, federal
their surveys; and assess whether
                                            complainants whose cases are dismissed for lack of jurisdiction are not always
legal protections are adequate for
these groups. Education disagreed           informed about the possibility of pursuing claims at the state level.
with our first recommendation and we        Three federal departments—Education, HHS, and the Department of Justice
clarified it to address some of their       (Justice)—have established coordinated efforts to carry out research and broadly
concerns. Education is considering our      disseminate information on bullying to the public, including establishment of a
second recommendation, agreed with          central website and an informational campaign to raise awareness about
our third, and provided information on      bullying. In addition to these efforts, Education has issued information about how
efforts related to the last. HHS agreed     federal civil rights laws can be used to address bullying of protected classes of
with our recommendations. Justice did
                                            youths and is conducting a comprehensive study of state bullying laws and how
not provide a written response.
                                            selected school districts are implementing them. However, no similar information
View GAO-12-349. For more information,      is being gathered on state civil rights laws and procedures that could be helpful in
contact Linda Calbom at (206) 287-4809 or   assessing the adequacy of legal protections against school bullying.
calboml@gao.gov.

                                                                                     United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                    1
               Background                                                                 3
               Reported Levels of Bullying and Related Effects Are Significant            5
               Selected State Legislatures and Educational Agencies Are Taking
                 Various Approaches to Reduce Bullying                                  10
               Federal and State Civil Rights Laws Offer Some Protections against
                 Bullying, but Vulnerable Groups May Not Always Be Covered              16
               Coordinated Federal Antibullying Efforts Are Under Way, but
                 Assessment of Legal Remedies Is Incomplete                             22
               Conclusions                                                              26
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                     27
               Agency Comments                                                          28

Appendix I     Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                       31



Appendix II    Comparison of the Definition and Measurement of Bullying in Four
               Nationally Representative Surveys                                        36



Appendix III   Selected Data on National Prevalence of Youth Who Report Being
               Bullied in School                                                        38



Appendix IV    Selected Data on National Prevalence of Certain Types of Bullying
               Behaviors                                                                40



Appendix V     Coordination Practices of Key Interdepartmental Federal Efforts on
               Bullying                                                                 42



Appendix VI    Additional Federal Programs and Services Are Available to Combat
               Bullying                                                                 46




               Page i                                         GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VII    Comments from the Department of Education                                 48



Appendix VIII   Comments from the Department of Health and Human Services                 56



Appendix IX     GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments                                    58



Tables
                Table 1: Coverage of Demographic Groups in Federal Surveys of
                         Youth                                                              7
                Table 2: Examples of Provisions Commonly Required by State
                         Bullying Laws                                                    13
                Table 3: Relevant Federal Civil Rights Laws, Protected Classes, and
                         Agency Enforcement Authority                                     18
                Table 4: Nationally Representative Surveys We Reviewed That Ask
                         about Youths Being Bullied, among Other Topics                   32
                Table 5: Selected Aspects of the Definition and Measurement of
                         Bullying in Four Nationally Representative Surveys               36
                Table 6: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being Bullied by Sex in
                         Three National Surveys                                           38
                Table 7: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being Bullied by
                         Race/Ethnicity in Three National Surveys                         39
                Table 8: NCVS SCS 2009: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being
                         Bullied for Certain Types of Bullying Behaviors                  40
                Table 9: HBSC 2005/2006: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being
                         Bullied for Certain Types of Bullying Behaviors                  41
                Table 10: NatSCEV 2008: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being
                         Bullied for Certain Types of Bullying Behaviors                  41
                Table 11: Practices for Key Coordinated Federal Efforts
                         Specifically on Bullying                                         42
                Table 12: Selected Services and Programs That Can Be Used to
                         Support Bullying Prevention                                      46




                Page ii                                         GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Abbreviations

ADA               Americans with Disabilities Act
CCD               Common Core of Data
CDC               Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CRT               Civil Rights Division
CSN               Children’s Safety Network
ERIC              Education Resources Information Center
GLSEN             Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
HBSC              Health Behavior in School-Aged Children
HHS               Department of Health and Human Services
HRSA              Health Resources and Services Administration
NatSCEV           National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence
NCES              National Center for Education Statistics
NCVS              National Crime Victimization Survey
NIH               National Institutes of Health
OCR               Office for Civil Rights
OJJDP             Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
PBIS              Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
SAMHSA            Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
                  Administration
SCS               School Crime Supplement
SEA               state educational agency
SS/HS             Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative
YRBS              National Youth Risk Behavior Survey




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Page iii                                                   GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   May 29, 2012

                                   The Honorable Tom Harkin
                                   Chairman
                                   Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
                                   United States Senate

                                   The Honorable Robert P. Casey, Jr.
                                   United States Senate

                                   The Honorable Al Franken
                                   United States Senate

                                   The Honorable Mark Kirk
                                   United States Senate

                                   It is estimated that millions of American youths have been bullied by their
                                   peers, including physical, verbal, and electronic attacks. 1 Some of these
                                   incidents, including some where bullying has been linked by the media to
                                   teen suicide, have received widespread attention, resulting in heightened
                                   awareness of bullying, as well as a wide range of actions at the federal,
                                   state, and local levels to address the behavior. Some of these incidents
                                   involved bullying based on personal characteristics, including race,
                                   religion, or sexual orientation, and have also raised questions about the
                                   role and availability of federal and state civil rights protections. Given the
                                   dynamic and rapidly changing nature of these efforts, governments at all
                                   levels, as well as the public, face a growing need for information about
                                   possible legal and practical approaches to combating bullying. In this
                                   context, you asked us to address the following questions:




                                   1
                                    For the purposes of this report, we use the term bullying to reflect behavior that is
                                   intended to inflict harm, repeated over time, and characterized by an imbalance of power
                                   between the perpetrator(s) and victim(s). Some sources refer to similar behavior as
                                   harassment, and may use the terms interchangeably.




                                   Page 1                                                    GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
1. What is known about the prevalence of school bullying and its effects
   on victims?

2. What approaches are selected states and local school districts taking
   to combat school bullying?

3. When bullying leads to allegations of discrimination, what legal
   options do federal and selected state governments have in place?

4. How are key federal agencies coordinating their efforts to combat
   school bullying?

To identify what is known about the prevalence of school bullying and its
effects on victims, we interviewed knowledgeable federal officials,
compared estimates and methodologies of four nationally representative
surveys that captured information on bullying, and conducted a literature
review of meta-analyses on the subject of the effects of bullying on
victims. 2 The four surveys focused primarily on middle and high school-
aged youths and were conducted by federal statistical agencies from
2005 to 2009. The results of the meta-analyses are not generalizable, but
represent a systematic approach to summarizing or analyzing findings
across studies included in the meta-analyses. To describe approaches
that selected states and local school districts are taking, we reviewed
relevant state bullying laws, regulations, guidance, and documents from
eight selected states and conducted interviews with state education
officials. We selected eight states—Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa,
Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont, and Virginia—based on the
following criteria: Each has bullying laws or regulations, and they vary
with respect to bullying definitions and enumeration of protected classes,
geographic variation, and student enrollment. Further, we selected three
states—New Mexico, Vermont, and Virginia, which vary on the
characteristics listed above—to review policies and guidance of six local
school districts, two in each state. School districts and schools were
selected to reflect a range of size and urbanicity (urban, suburban, and
rural), as well as racial and socioeconomic diversity. Participation in the
National School Lunch Program is used as a proxy for socioeconomic
status. In these school districts, we conducted interviews with central
administrators, principals, school staff, and parents. To identify legal


2
 Meta-analyses are reviews that analyze other studies and synthesize their findings,
usually through quantitative methods.




Page 2                                                    GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
             options that federal and selected state governments have in place when
             bullying leads to allegations of discrimination, we reviewed relevant
             federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as state anti-discrimination laws
             for the eight states included for review. We also conducted interviews with
             officials in the Departments of Education (Education) and Justice
             (Justice), as well as with state education and civil rights officials, on anti-
             discrimination laws and complaint processes. Last, to identify
             coordination of efforts of key federal agencies to combat school bullying,
             we conducted interviews and reviewed documents from three federal
             departments: Education, Justice, and the Department of Health and
             Human Services (HHS). We analyzed coordination of efforts based on
             our professional judgment and relevance of selected key practices that
             we have previously identified as effective coordination practices. 3

             We conducted this performance audit from April 2011 through May 2012
             in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
             These standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
             sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
             findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
             the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
             conclusions based on our audit objectives. For more information on our
             scope and methodology, see appendix I.


             Although definitions vary, including definitions used by federal agencies,
Background   many experts generally agree that bullying involves intent to cause harm,
             repetition, and an imbalance of power. The pioneering research of Dr.
             Dan Olweus in Norway has defined being bullied or victimized as when a
             student “is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the
             part of one or more other youths” with an intent to harm. 4 Notably,
             bullying is distinct from general conflict or aggression, which can occur
             absent an imbalance of power or repetition. For example, a single fight
             between two youths of roughly equal power is a form of aggression, but
             may not be bullying. When bullying occurs it may take many forms that
             can also be associated with conflict or aggression, including physical



             3
              GAO, Results-Oriented Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and Sustain
             Collaboration among Federal Agencies, GAO-06-15 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 2005).
             4
              Dan Olweus, “Annotation: Bullying at School: Basic Facts and Effects of a School Based
             Intervention Program,” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, vol. 35, no. 7 (1994).




             Page 3                                                    GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
harm, such as hitting, shoving, or locking inside a school locker; verbal
name calling, taunts, or threats; relational attacks, such as spreading
rumors or isolating victims from their peers; and the use of computers or
cell phones to convey harmful words or images, also referred to as
cyberbullying. Often bullying occurs without apparent provocation and
may be based on the victim’s personal characteristics. For example,
youth may be bullied based on the way they look, dress, speak, or act.

There are several federal efforts under way to bring together federal
resources that can be used to identify and address bullying. In particular,
given their focus on education, health, and safety issues, Education,
HHS, and Justice, along with other federal agencies, have been involved
in efforts to help coordinate federal resources to identify and address
bullying. Additionally, several bills have been introduced in the 112th
Congress that relate to bullying. 5 Among the various issues addressed in
these bills are bullying policies, the collection and reporting of bullying
data, and the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation or gender identity. Some of the bills would authorize federal
grants to states and school districts for antibullying-related purposes.
Although there is not presently a federal law directly targeted to address
school bullying, several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination
based on protected characteristics of individuals may, under certain
circumstances, be used to address particular incidents of bullying. 6

With respect to states’ efforts to address bullying, Education
commissioned a two-part study that examines the elements of state
bullying laws and the manner in which school districts are implementing
the laws. The first part of Education’s study, issued in December 2011,
included a review of all state bullying laws and model policies in effect as
of April 2011, including those of the eight states we reviewed, as well as
policies from 20 large school districts. The second part of Education’s
study is scheduled for completion during fall 2012. It will include case



5
 See, for example, S. 506 and H.R. 1648, the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2011; S.
540 and H.R. 1048, the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2011; S.
555 and H.R. 998, the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011; S. 919, the Successful,
Safe, and Healthy Students Act of 2011; H.R. 83, the Bullying Prevention and Intervention
Act of 2011; and H.R. 975, the Anti-Bullying and Harassment Act of 2011.
6
 Throughout this report we use the terms “civil rights laws” and “anti-discrimination laws”
interchangeably.




Page 4                                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                       studies of how 24 schools, selected from four states, implement their
                       states’ bullying laws.

Reported Levels of
Bullying and Related
Effects Are
Significant
Federal Survey Data    Being bullied is a serious problem, as evidenced by four federally
                       sponsored nationally representative surveys conducted from 2005 to
                       2009. Estimates of the national prevalence of bullying ranged from
                       approximately 20 to 28 percent of youth reporting they had been bullied
                       during the survey periods, which ranged from a couple of months to a
                       year. 7 However, differences in definitions and survey methods make it
                       difficult to draw definitive conclusions regarding trends and affected
                       demographic groups. Our analysis and similar work from HHS’s Centers
                       for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the sponsors of two of
                       the surveys, showed that the surveys vary in the way they pose questions
                       about being bullied and how bullying is defined, if at all. 8 Officials at
                       Education, the sponsor of one of the surveys, and HHS also told us that
                       different survey questions and definitions of bullying lead to different
                       results in estimates of prevalence.

                       While it is clear that bullying is a serious problem, it is unclear from the
                       surveys the extent to which bullying affects certain groups of youths
                       relative to other groups. Specifically, the surveys collected information on
                       the percentage of youths bullied based on gender and race. However, the
                       information showed varying results. For example, there was no significant
                       difference in the percentage of boys and girls that reported being bullied,


                       7
                        These estimates have a 95 percent confidence interval of within plus or minus 2.1
                       percentage points.
                       8
                        CDC officials have documented the differences in the four nationally representative
                       surveys, including estimates of prevalence, definitions and questions about bullying, and
                       other differences in how the four surveys measure bullying. CDC, as part of a federal
                       interdepartmental coordinating committee on bullying and its subcommittee on research,
                       developed an analysis for internal purposes comparing the four surveys. According to
                       CDC officials, the agency plans to post relevant information based on this analysis on its
                       public website in the next few months. They added that CDC currently posts and updates
                       some prevalence information on its public website on a fact sheet about bullying.




                       Page 5                                                     GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
according to two surveys, while one noted that girls were bullied at a
higher percentage. In two of the three surveys, white youths reported
being bullied at a higher percentage than African-American youths, while
one other survey found no significant difference.

In addition, the four national surveys we identified did not consistently
collect information about other demographic characteristics, making it
impossible to determine percentages of bullying for these groups. 9 For
example, none of the surveys collected demographic information for
youths by sexual orientation or gender identity. 10 Researchers noted
various challenges to obtaining such information, such as some schools
may not permit questions on sexual orientation or gender identity status,
potentially resulting in a sample that would not be nationally
representative. Also, questions about sexual orientation or gender identity
may be sensitive for youth respondents to complete, and researchers
noted that such questions may not yield accurate information.
Additionally, the surveys varied in whether or not they collected
demographic information to allow for analysis based on religion, disability,
or socioeconomic status, and two of the surveys did not include any
questions asking specifically if youths had been bullied based on specific
demographic characteristics. (See table 1.)




9
 The National Crime Victimization Survey, School Crime Supplement 2009, asks youths
about hate-related words directed at students based on their sexual orientation.
10
  According to a 2011 publication of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of
Medicine, gender identity refers to one’s sense of gender (such as male or female or
another gender such as transgender), whether or not associated with a person’s sex at
birth.




Page 6                                                   GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Table 1: Coverage of Demographic Groups in Federal Surveys of Youth

                                                                          National Crime                                       National Survey of
                                        National Youth                    Victimization Survey      Health Behavior in         Children’s
                                        Risk Behavior                     (NCVS), School Crime      School-aged                Exposure to
                                        Survey (YRBS)                     Supplement (SCS)          Children (HBSC)            Violence
                                                                               a
                                        2009                              2009                      2005/2006                  (NatSCEV) 2008
Survey collected demographic information that allows for analysis to determine if differences in bullying exist between different
demographic groups.
Sex                                     yes                               yes                       yes                        yes
Race/ethnicity                          yes                               yes                       yes                        yes
Religion                                no                                no                        no                         no
                                             b
Disability                              no                                no                        no                         yes
                                             b
Sexual orientation                      no                                no                        no                         no
                                             b
Gender identity                         no                                no                        no                         no
Socioeconomic status                    no                                yes                       yes                        yes
Survey included question(s) that specifically ask about bullying based on the following demographic characteristics
Sex                                     no                                yes                       yes                        no
Race/ethnicity                          no                                yes                       yes                        no
Religion                                no                                yes                       yes                        no
Disability                              no                                yes                       no                         no
Sexual orientation                      no                                yes                       no                         no
Gender identity                         no                                no                        no                         no
Socioeconomic status                    no                                no                        no                         no
                                                 Source: GAO analysis of surveys.


                                                 Note: See appendixes I through IV for more information on the four surveys.

                                                 a
                                                 Includes “hate-related” speech as form of bullying.

                                                 b
                                                  The YRBS includes optional questions about disability, sexual identity, and sexual contacts that state
                                                 and school districts may choose to use.


                                                 While federal agencies have not collected information on some
                                                 demographic groups, other researchers have attempted to fill the void.
                                                 For example, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
                                                 conducted a survey in the 2008-2009 school year and received
                                                 responses from more than 7,000 students between the ages of 13 and 21




                                                 Page 7                                                             GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                         who self-reported as not heterosexual. 11 Although not nationally
                         representative, the results found, among other things, that 85 percent of
                         students who responded to the survey said they were called names or
                         threatened at some point in the past school year based on their sexual
                         orientation, and 64 percent based on their gender expression; for
                         example, for not acting “masculine enough” or “feminine enough”. 12 Forty
                         percent of students who responded said they were pushed or shoved
                         based on their sexual orientation, and 27 percent based on their gender
                         expression. 13

                         In addition to the fact that there are voids in information about
                         demographic groups, Education and HHS officials said that researchers
                         need a uniform definition to measure bullying. To better understand the
                         prevalence of bullying, and given the different definitions used by bullying
                         research instruments, CDC is leading an interdepartmental project to
                         develop a uniform definition of bullying for research purposes. According
                         to CDC officials, a report is expected to be issued in 2012 that contains a
                         uniform definition along with information on other data elements to
                         measure bullying, such as the frequency or types of bullying behavior.
                         According to CDC, the project on the uniform definition is still under
                         review, but may contain data elements for a number of demographic
                         characteristics, including sex, race, ethnicity, disability status, religion,
                         and sexual orientation.


Negative Outcomes from   Research, spanning more than a decade, has demonstrated that bullying
Bullying                 is associated with a variety of negative outcomes for victims, including
                         psychological, physical, academic, and behavioral issues. 14 For example,


                         11
                           GLSEN used two approaches to invite lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)
                         students to participate in the survey: outreach through community-based groups serving
                         LGBT youth and outreach via the Internet.
                         12
                           According to another publication by GLSEN, “gender expression” refers to how one
                         appears and acts, which are socially defined as masculine or feminine.
                         13
                           Joseph G. Kosciw et al., “The 2009 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of
                         Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools.” Gay, Lesbian
                         and Straight Education Network: 2010. Available at http://www.glsen.org/cgi-
                         bin/iowa/all/library/record/2624.html?state=research&type=research, last accessed May
                         22, 2012.
                         14
                          Some of the meta-analyses may refer to peer victimization. According to Education and
                         HHS officials, peer victimization has substantial overlap with bullying.




                         Page 8                                                   GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
a 2000 analysis of 23 bullying research studies found that youth who
were bullied experienced higher levels of depression, loneliness, low self-
esteem, and anxiety than their peers who had not been bullied. 15
Similarly, a 2010 analysis of 18 research studies found that being bullied
was linked to increased psychological issues later in life. 16 A third
analysis, of 20 studies, published in 2011, found that being bullied was
associated with greater likelihood of being depressed later in life. 17

A 2009 analysis of 11 research studies found that bullying victims had a
higher risk for such physical health outcomes as headaches, backaches,
sleeping problems, and bad appetite, as compared with their peers who
had not been bullied. 18 Additionally, a 2010 analysis of 33 research
studies on bullying and academic achievement found that bullying is
related to concurrent academic difficulties for victims. Academic
achievement was assessed based on such measures as grade point
averages, standardized test scores, or teacher ratings of academic
achievement. 19 Researchers have also linked bullying to increases in
behavioral problems for victims over time, such as aggression,
delinquency, and truancy. 20




15
  David S. J. Hawker and Michael J. Boulton, “Twenty Years’ Research on Peer
Victimization and Psychosocial Maladjustment: A Meta-analytic Review of Cross-sectional
Studies.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, vol. 41, no. 4 (2000).
16
  Albert Reijntjes et al., “Peer Victimization and Internalizing Problems in Children: A
Meta-analysis of Longitudinal Studies.” International Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect,
vol. 34 (2010).
17
  Maria M. Ttofi et al., “Do the Victims of School Bullies Tend to Become Depressed Later
in Life? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Longitudinal Studies.” Journal of
Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, vol. 3, no. 2 (2011).
18
  Gianluca Gini and Tiziana Pozzoli, “Association Between Bullying and Psychosomatic
Problems: A Meta-analysis,” Pediatrics, vol. 123, no. 3 (2009).
19
  Jonathan Nakamoto and David Schwartz, “Is Peer Victimization Associated with
Academic Achievement? A Meta-analytic Review.” Social Development, vol. 19, no. 2
(2010).
20
  Albert Reijntjes et al., “Prospective Linkages Between Peer Victimization and
Externalizing Problems in Children: A Meta-analysis,” Aggressive Behavior, vol. 37, no. 3
(2011). According to the authors, “[p]eer victimization can take various forms, including
teasing, deliberate exclusion, being the target of malicious gossip, and experiencing
physical threats or violence.”




Page 9                                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                         While researchers point out that the causes of suicide and violence are
                         varied and complex, bullying has been identified as one risk factor
                         associated with violent actions against oneself and others. For example,
                         one 2011 analysis of 18 studies found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual
                         youth were more likely to be verbally harassed and teased or physically
                         and sexually victimized than heterosexual youth, and more likely to
                         experience detrimental outcomes, such as suicidal thoughts and
                         attempts. 21 According to a federally sponsored website on bullying,
                         specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including American
                         Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian-American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
                         transgender youths. Their risk of suicide can be increased further by
                         bullying. Bullying has also been linked to acts of violence against others.
                         For example, a 2002 study by Education and the Secret Service reviewed
                         37 incidents of school attacks and shootings occurring between 1974 and
                         the end of the 2000 school year, and reported out 10 key findings that
                         could be used to develop strategies to address targeted school violence.
                         One of those 10 findings was that nearly three-quarters of attackers were
                         bullied, persecuted, or injured by others prior to the attack, and that in
                         several cases the bullying was severe and long-standing. 22



Selected State
Legislatures and
Educational Agencies
Are Taking Various
Approaches to
Reduce Bullying
State Laws Vary in How   According to Education, 49 states had school bullying laws as of April
They Address Bullying    2012, including the 8 states that we reviewed. These 8 states’ laws vary



                         21
                           Alicia L. Fedewa and Soyeon Ahn, “The Effects of Bullying and Peer Victimization on
                         Sexual-Minority and Heterosexual Youths: A Quantitative Meta-Analysis of the Literature,”
                         Journal of GLBT Family Studies, vol. 7, no. 4 (2011).
                         22
                           United States Secret Service and United States Department of Education, “The Final
                         Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School
                         Attacks in the United States” (Washington, D.C.: May 2002).




                         Page 10                                                     GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
in several ways, including who is covered and the requirements placed on
state agencies and school districts. 23 For example, the 8 states’ laws that
we reviewed vary in whether and the extent to which they cover specific
demographic groups, referred to as protected classes. Five states—
Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, and Vermont—identify race, color,
sex or gender, national origin or nationality, disability, sexual orientation,
gender identity, and religion as protected classes. 24 California includes all
of these groups, except for color. Some states also prohibit bullying of
other protected classes. For example, Illinois also includes as protected
classes ancestry, age, and marital status. Virginia and Massachusetts do
not include protected classes in their state bullying laws. According to
Massachusetts officials, protected classes were intentionally omitted from
the state’s law to ensure that all youths were equally protected. Within
Massachusetts’ state educational agency (SEA), a specific office is
designated to receive complaints, including from youths who have been
bullied for any reason, such as obesity or socioeconomic status.
Additionally, four of the states that identify protected classes—Arkansas,
Illinois, Iowa, and New Mexico—provide that the list of classes is not
exhaustive, so protection can be afforded to youths with characteristics
not explicitly listed. For example, Iowa prohibits bullying “based on any
actual or perceived trait or characteristic of the student.” 25 In contrast,
California’s bullying law is more exclusive and limits protection to only
those groups that are listed in the law.



23
   For the sake of simplicity, we refer to bullying laws throughout this section of the report.
Such references, unless specified otherwise, are meant to broadly encompass such state
provisions, whether they are found in state laws or regulations, and whether the state uses
the terms “bullying,” “harassment,” or both. Vermont officials stressed to us that much of
our discussion of their bullying laws applies to the provisions using the term “harassment,”
which specify protected categories of students, as opposed to provisions using the term
“bullying,” which do not specify protected classes. The bullying laws we reviewed include
the following (with the relevant state in parentheses): Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-514
(Arkansas); Cal. Educ. Code §§ 201, 234.1, 234.3, 32261, 32270, 32280, 32281, 32282,
48900, and 48900.4, Cal. Code Regs. tit. 5, § 4910 (California); 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/10-
20.14 and 5/27-23.7 (Illinois); Iowa Code §§ 280.12 and 280.28 (Iowa); Mass. Gen. Laws
ch. 71, §§ 37H and 37O (Massachusetts); N.M. Stat. Ann. § 22-2-21, N.M. Admin. Code
tit. 6, §§ 6.12.7.7 and 6.12.7.8 (New Mexico); Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, §§ 11, 14, 164, 165,
565, and 1161a (Vermont); Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-279.6 (Virginia).
24
  While New Mexico’s law does not explicitly include gender identity, it does include
sexual orientation, and according to a state official, these concepts were intended to be
closely aligned.
25
  Iowa Code § 280.28(2)(b).




Page 11                                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
We also found that state laws impose various requirements on SEAs. For
example, laws in California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Virginia require
that SEAs develop model bullying policies as a resource for school
districts. 26 Also, we found that while SEAs in Arkansas, California, and
Illinois are required by law to review or monitor school district’s bullying
policies, the approach taken to do so is different from state to state. 27 For
example, officials in Arkansas reported that as part of a broader effort to
ensure that school districts’ policies align with federal and state laws, they
conduct on-site reviews every 4 years, and require school districts to
forward information to the Department of Education for review every year,
including information about discipline and bullying policies. Conversely,
an Illinois official reported that little meaningful oversight is occurring, in
part because of resource constraints.

In each of the states we reviewed, the laws require school districts to
adopt bullying policies or plans, but the states differed in the specific
requirements of what must be included in these policies or plans. 28 For
example, of the 8 states’ laws we reviewed, 6 states require school
districts to set forth a process for receiving and investigating complaints,
and 2 do not. Similarly, we found that 6 states’ laws require district
policies to identify the consequences for bullies, while 2 do not. Table 2
provides information about commonly required school district provisions
in state bullying laws.




26
  Model policies may be used by local school districts as a guide in developing their
policies, and may include procedures for reporting and investigating bullying behavior.
While not required to do so by law, SEAs in Iowa and New Mexico also make model
bullying policies available to school districts.
27
  Massachusetts and Vermont officials reported that they also review district policies,
although not required by law to do so. Iowa officials review district policies as part of the
state’s school accreditation process. New Mexico officials checked to ensure that school
districts had policies.
28
  More broadly, Education’s review of state bullying laws found that 39 states require
school districts’ policies to contain clear prohibitions against bullying.




Page 12                                                       GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Table 2: Examples of Provisions Commonly Required by State Bullying Laws

                 Notification of    Consequences for                     Require that school                           Process for                Complainant will
                   policy to       engaging in bullying                   employees report                            receiving and               be protected from
                  parents and       behavior must be                  incidents or that schools                       investigating                 retaliation or
                    youths             articulated                   have reporting procedures                         complaints                      reprisal
                        a
Arkansas               X                      X                                          X                                      X                        X
California             X                                                                                                        X                        X
Illinois               X                                                                                                                                 X
Iowa                   X                      X                                          X                                      X                        X
Massachusetts          X                      X                                          X                                      X                        X
New Mexico             X                      X                                          X                                      X                        X
Vermont                X                      X                                          X                                      X                        X
Virginia               X                      X
                                        Source: GAO review of relevant state bullying laws and regulations for the 8 states included in our review.

                                        a
                                         School district policies must require notice of what constitutes bullying, that bullying is prohibited, and
                                        the consequences of bullying be provided. Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-514(e)(2)(G).


                                        States are also making changes to their bullying laws, as evidenced by 4
                                        of our 8 selected states amending or enacting bullying laws since we
                                        began our study in the spring of 2011. 29 For example, Arkansas, among
                                        other things, amended its law to include protected classes based on
                                        actual or perceived characteristics. Vermont amended its law to include
                                        protections against cyberbullying and incidents that do not occur during
                                        the school day on school property, or at school-sponsored events.


Selected School Districts’              The six school districts we reviewed in New Mexico, Virginia, and
Antibullying Policies and               Vermont have all adopted policies, plans, or rules, and implemented a
Programs                                range of approaches, to combat bullying. Among other components of the
                                        bullying policies and rules, each prohibits bullying and describes potential
                                        consequences for the behavior. Also, the school districts in New Mexico
                                        and Vermont developed policies and procedures covering the reporting
                                        and investigation of bullying behavior.

                                        School district officials explained that they have developed several
                                        approaches to prevent and respond to bullying. For example, in five of the
                                        six school districts we visited, central administrators or principals said


                                        29
                                            These states are Arkansas, California, New Mexico, and Vermont.




                                        Page 13                                                                                  GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
they conduct student surveys that include questions about bullying to
determine the prevalence of the behavior, and two administrators said the
surveys are used to develop strategies to address the behavior. Also,
officials from four of the six school districts said that several or all of their
schools utilize the prevention-oriented framework Positive Behavioral
Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to improve overall behavior in schools
(see text box). 30 Additionally, several school districts and schools use
curricula that help youths develop interpersonal skills and manage their
emotions, such as Second Step, a classroom-based social skills program
for youths 4 to 14 years of age, and Steps to Respect, a bullying
prevention program developed for grades three through six. Several
central administrators and principals mentioned that antibullying-focused
events have been held at their schools, such as Rachel’s Challenge and
Ryan’s Story. Rachel’s Challenge is a program that seeks to create a
positive culture change in schools and communities and begins with
video/audio footage of Rachel Scott, the first person killed during the
1999 Columbine High School incident. Ryan’s Story is a presentation that
recounts the factors that led to the 2003 suicide of Ryan Halligan, a victim
of both bullying and cyberbullying.




30
  PBIS is used by educators to improve overall school environments. PBIS’ focus on
improving behavior, teaching social skills, and supporting academic achievement can help
reduce bullying behavior.




Page 14                                                  GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                              The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports framework utilizes evidence-based,
                              prevention-oriented practices and systems to promote positive and effective classroom
                              and school social cultures. According to Education’s Office of Special Education
                              Programs, PBIS steps to addressing bullying behavior at school include the following:
                              •   examining discipline data to determine, for example, the frequency, location, and
                                  timing of specific bullying behaviors;
                              •   examining the extent to which staff members have, for example, actively and
                                  positively supervised all students across all school settings, had high rates of
                                  positive interactions and contact with all students, and arranged their instruction so
                                  all students are actively engaged, successful, and challenged ; and
                              •   teaching students and staff common strategies for preventing and responding to
                                  bullying behavior, such as intervening and responding early and quickly to interrupt
                                  bullying behavior, removing what triggers and maintains bullying behavior, and
                                  reporting and recording when a bullying behavior incident occurs.
                              Students whose bullying behavior does not improve are considered for additional
                              supports. For example, on the basis of the function of a student’s behavior, students
                              would (1) begin the day with a check-in or reminder about the daily expectations; (2) be
                              more overtly and actively supervised; (3) receive more frequent, regular, and positive
                              performance feedback each day; and (4) conclude each day with a checkout or
                              debriefing with an adult.
                              Source: National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports.



                              In addition to mentioning efforts focused on youths, several central
                              administrators and principals said that teachers receive some bullying
                              prevention guidance or training. Information about bullying prevention is
                              also shared with parents during workshops and forums. For example, one
                              official mentioned that Rachel’s Challenge includes a session with
                              parents and community leaders. A parent said that his school district
                              hosted a national speaker to share information with parents about
                              bullying.


State and Local Officials     Both state and local officials expressed concerns about various issues
Cited Concerns That           associated with implementing state bullying laws, regulations, and local
Hinder Antibullying Efforts   policies and codes of conduct. For example, administrators and principals
                              reported that determining how to respond to out-of-school incidents, such
                              as cyberbullying, is challenging. Administrators and principals said that
                              sometimes they are not informed of incidents in a timely manner, resulting
                              in a delayed response. Additionally, some parents discourage school
                              officials’ involvement in out-of-school incidents. However, administrators
                              and principals agreed that when out-of-school incidents affect school
                              climate, the behavior has to be addressed.

                              Another issue of concern for both state and local officials is that parents
                              and youths can confuse conflict with bullying. According to the state and
                              local officials that we spoke with, they spend a lot of time on nonbullying



                              Page 15                                                                              GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                       behavior and more could be done to educate parents and youths on the
                       distinction between bullying behavior and other forms of conflict. On a
                       related matter, state and local officials said that it is important to train
                       teachers and staff to prevent, identify, and respond to bullying behavior.
                       However, according to these officials, because of state budget cuts and
                       the elimination of some federal funding that could be used for bullying
                       prevention activities, there is little funding available for training. State
                       officials specifically cited the loss of funding from Title IV, Part A of the
                       Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, which
                       among other things could be used to prevent violence in and around
                       schools. According to federal officials, funding for this program was
                       eliminated in 2009.



 Federal and State
 Civil Rights Laws
 Offer Some
 Protections against
 Bullying, but
 Vulnerable Groups
 May Not Always Be
 Covered
Federal Civil Rights   When bullying rises to the level of discrimination, federal civil rights laws
Protections            may be used to provide redress to individuals in legally protected groups.
                       Federal civil rights laws protect against discrimination based on sex, race,
                       color, national origin, religion, or disability. However, federal agencies
                       generally lack jurisdiction to address discrimination based on
                       classifications not protected under federal civil rights statutes. For
                       example, federal agencies lack authority to pursue discrimination cases
                       based solely on sexual orientation.

                       Additionally, federal civil rights laws do not cover all youths in all
                       educational settings, and as a result, where a student goes to school
                       could affect the student’s ability to file a claim of discrimination with the
                       federal government. For example, Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964




                       Page 16                                            GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
(Title IV) prohibits discrimination in public schools and institutions of
higher learning. 31 Since Title IV is the only federal civil rights law
addressing religious discrimination in educational settings, only youths at
public schools and public institutions of higher learning, where Title IV
applies, could file such a claim. Youths who attend public schools or other
schools receiving federal education funding and who belong to other
federally protected classes may have the option to file a complaint with
Education, Justice, or both departments, depending on which agency has
enforcement authority. 32 See table 3 for the relevant federal civil rights
laws, protected classes, and agency enforcement authority.




31
  42 U.S.C. §§ 2000c, 2000c-6.
32
  Persons in protected classes who have been bullied or harassed and believe they are
victims of discrimination may be able to file a complaint with Education or Justice.
According to Education officials, their department investigates all complaints it receives for
which it has jurisdiction. Justice officials stated that because they have far fewer staff than
Education, they must use their available resources in a targeted way. According to Justice
officials, the department is not statutorily required to investigate every complaint and thus
evaluates complaints they receive to identify those that involve pressing matters or novel
legal questions requiring government involvement. When either an Education or Justice
investigation determines that civil rights violations have occurred, they first try to work with
the institution to develop a voluntary resolution—Education through resolution agreements
and Justice through negotiated settlements. When Justice enters into a settlement
agreement, it can do so in conjunction with or following the filing of a complaint in federal
court, or the settlement can be entered into out of court. Resolution agreements and
settlements may require that, among other things, school districts revise their policies and
publicize them to schools and communities, conduct training of staff and students, and/or
collect and report data. In instances where resolution agreements and settlements are not
reached or complaints are not otherwise resolved, Justice could engage in litigation in
federal court. According to Education officials, since they have a high level of voluntary
compliance, they generally do not need to refer complaints to Justice for litigation. As an
alternative to initiating litigation, Justice may also intervene in a private lawsuit or file
amicus briefs on behalf of the United States.




Page 17                                                       GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Table 3: Relevant Federal Civil Rights Laws, Protected Classes, and Agency Enforcement Authority

                                                                                                                                            Agency with
Protected                                                                                                                                   enforcement
class             Applicable federal law                                Settings where discrimination is prohibited                         authority
Sex               Title IX of the Education Amendments of               Education programs and activities receiving                         Education and Justice
                                  a
                  1972 (Title IX)                                       federal financial assistance.
                  Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title Public schools and public institutions of higher                          Justice
                      b
                  IV)                                             learning.
Race, color, or   Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title Programs and activities receiving federal                                 Education and Justice
                      c
national origin   VI)                                             financial assistance.


                  Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title Public schools and public institutions of higher                          Justice
                      b
                  IV)                                             learning.
Religion          Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title Public schools and public institutions of higher                          Justice
                      b
                  IV)                                             learning.
Disability        Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of              Programs and activities receiving federal                           Education and Justice
                                     d
                  1973 (section 504)                                    financial assistance or conducted by an
                                                                        executive agency (such as Education).
                  Titles II and III of the Americans with               Title II prohibits discrimination by public entities, Education (Title II)
                                                  e
                  Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)                        including public schools. Title III prohibits         and Justice (Titles II
                                                                        discrimination by places of public                    and III)
                                                                        accommodation, including private schools.
                                              Source: GAO analysis of relevant federal laws and information from Education and Justice.

                                              a
                                                  20.U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
                                              b
                                                  42 U.S.C. § 2000c et seq.
                                              c
                                               42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
                                              d
                                                  29 U.S.C. § 794.
                                              e
                                                  Title II: 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq.; Title III: 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq.

                                              In addition to those groups explicitly enumerated in federal civil rights
                                              laws, protections have been applied to other classes of youth in some
                                              situations. For example, Titles IV and IX, which prohibit discrimination
                                              based on sex, have been interpreted, in certain circumstances, to apply to
                                              discrimination based on gender identity. However, Titles IV and IX have
                                              not been used to address discrimination based solely on sexual
                                              orientation. Justice officials explained that youths who are discriminated
                                              against based on gender identity are generally protected under Titles IV
                                              and IX, as discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex
                                              discrimination. They explained that sexual orientation, on the other hand,
                                              is not covered under Titles IV or IX. According to Education and Justice
                                              officials and some court decisions, however, youths bullied on the basis
                                              of actual or perceived sexual orientation may have some protection under


                                              Page 18                                                                               GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Titles IV and IX if there is overlapping gender-based discrimination. 33 For
example, in Montgomery v. Independent School District No. 709, the U.S.
District Court for the District of Minnesota addressed the issue of sexual
orientation discrimination in the Title IX context. 34 In Montgomery, a male
student claimed that he was verbally and physically abused by other
youths because he did not meet their stereotyped expectations of
masculinity and because they perceived him to be gay. The court held
that the student’s claim of sexual orientation discrimination was not
actionable under Title IX because sexual orientation is not a protected
characteristic under Title IX. 35 On the other hand, however, the court
found that a discrimination claim based on a failure to meet gender
stereotypes was permissible under Title IX. 36

Little is known about the extent to which students belonging to various
demographic groups not covered by federal civil rights laws are being
discriminated against because they either do not file claims or, when they
file claims, information about those claims is not routinely collected or
tracked. Victims of bullying who are members of a protected class and
feel that they have been discriminated against can generally file a
complaint with Education or Justice. According to Education’s guidance,
individuals must generally file complaints with Education within 180 days
of the latest incident, whereas no time limitations apply for filing
complaints with Justice. 37 Education and Justice differ in their approaches
to processing complaints and levels of staff resources to investigate
complaints of discrimination. In general, Education resolves complaints
through a formal administrative process, and while both Education and
Justice investigate complaints, Justice negotiates and, if necessary,
litigates in federal courts. According to Education and Justice officials, an
important difference in their approaches to handling discrimination



33
  According to Justice officials, all students, including LGBT students, are protected from
gender-based discrimination, including discrimination based on gender stereotypes.
34
 109 F. Supp. 2d 1081 (2000).
35
 Id. at 1090.
36
 Id. at 1092.
37
  According to OCR’s case processing manual, a complaint must be filed within 180
calendar days of the date of the alleged discrimination, unless the time for filing is
extended by Education’s Office for Civil Rights for good cause shown under certain
circumstances.




Page 19                                                     GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                     complaints is partly due to Education’s greater staff resources.
                     Education’s Office for Civil Rights has roughly 400 staff, and Justice’s
                     Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section, has about 20
                     attorneys. According to departmental officials, Education investigates all
                     complaints it receives for which it has jurisdiction. Conversely, Justice
                     selects a limited number of complaints to review based on such factors as
                     the severity of the complaint and whether the federal government has a
                     special interest in the case. Additionally, officials from Education and
                     Justice told us that they collaborate closely. Generally, Justice and
                     Education share information about complaints because they may have
                     overlapping jurisdiction, and try to coordinate efforts where feasible.

                     Education and Justice do not currently have a systematic approach for
                     tracking information about the number of cases related to various
                     demographic groups that they do not have jurisdiction to address. The
                     U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, in a 2011 report on the protections of
                     federal anti-discrimination laws relating to school bullying, recommended
                     that Justice and Education, among other things, track dismissed civil
                     rights claims by various demographic characteristics. However, Education
                     and Justice officials told us that as part of their complaint review
                     processes, they focus on collecting information to establish federal
                     jurisdiction, and as a result neither department collects information in a
                     way that would allow them to routinely assess the demographic
                     characteristics of cases where they lack jurisdiction. Thus, they do not
                     plan to address the commission’s recommendation. Additionally,
                     according to officials from both departments, attempting to track such
                     information would be problematic because of difficulties in ascertaining
                     demographic information. They also believe the information could be
                     misleading. According to Justice officials, they dedicate significant
                     resources to outreach designed to educate communities on their
                     jurisdiction, and this may impact the number of complaints they receive
                     from demographic groups that fall outside of their jurisdiction.


State Civil Rights   We found that some states’ civil rights laws extend beyond the
Protections          protections afforded at the federal level, but information about the
                     possibility of pursuing claims at the state level was not always provided to
                     federal complainants. For all eight states we reviewed, state anti-
                     discrimination laws, like federal civil rights laws, provide protections for
                     individuals who are discriminated against on the basis of sex, race,




                     Page 20                                          GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
national origin, religion, and disability, and in all but Arkansas, color. 38
Thus, in these eight states, for these protected classes, legal action can
generally be taken at the federal, state, or both levels.

The majority of the eight states that we reviewed include in their anti-
discrimination laws protections for various groups of people who are not
explicitly covered at the federal level. For example, six of the eight states
we reviewed prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, 39
and five of the eight states prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender
identity. 40 Beyond these protected classes, most states we reviewed also
prohibit discrimination on the basis of other personal characteristics, such
as marital status. California is unique among the states in our review in
that its anti-discrimination laws explicitly protect individuals on the basis of
citizenship, gender-related appearance and behavior, and individuals who
are associated with a person with (or perceived to have) a protected
characteristic. 41 However, because some characteristics are not explicitly
protected under anti-discrimination laws at either the federal level or in
the states we reviewed, youths in these states who are bullied on the
basis of one of these characteristics would have no recourse under civil
rights law at either level. For example, state education and civil rights
officials mentioned that anti-discrimination laws generally do not apply to
youths who were bullied based on their socioeconomic status or obesity.

Education officials told us they sometimes provide information on state
civil rights laws to complainants on an informal basis, but not as a matter
of routine. For example, these officials said that a federal complainant



38
  The state civil rights laws we reviewed include the following (with the relevant state in
parentheses): Ark. Code Ann. §§ 16-123-101 through 16-123-108 (Arkansas); Cal. Educ.
Code §§ 200 et seq., 210 et seq., 220 et seq., and 260 et seq. (California); 775 Ill. Comp.
Stat. 5/5-102, 5/5A-102, and 5/1-103 (Illinois); Iowa Code § 216.9 (Iowa); Mass. Gen.
Laws ch. 76, § 5, ch. 71B, § 2 (Massachusetts); N.M. Stat. Ann. § 28-1-1 et seq. (New
Mexico); Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9, §§ 4500-4507 (Vermont); Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3900 et seq.
(Virginia). In some of the states these laws apply only in the education context, while in
others they apply more broadly. We only analyzed these laws in the education context,
and make no assessment of how they might apply in other areas.
39
 The six states are California, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Vermont.
40
  The five states are California, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, and Vermont. In addition,
Massachusetts recently passed a law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity,
and that law will take effect in July 2012.
41
 Cal. Ed. Code §§ 210 et seq., 220.




Page 21                                                     GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                              who withdraws his or her complaint may be informed in a phone
                              discussion about legal options at the state level. Also, officials said that if
                              a complaint reaches the stage of a dismissal, Education’s letter to the
                              complainant sometimes suggests that the claimant might have a claim
                              under state civil rights law, along with the name and address of the
                              relevant state agency. However, according to Education officials, when
                              the agency lacks jurisdiction, it does not presently notify complainants
                              about the availability of possible recourse under state law on a routine
                              basis. As a result, individuals who file complaints with Education may not
                              be fully aware of their legal options. On the other hand, according to
                              Justice officials, department officials routinely share with complainants
                              that they may have legal options available to them through their state’s
                              civil rights laws. While not specific to particular states and their laws,
                              Justice provides a general notification in letters to complainants for
                              complaints they do not pursue.



Coordinated Federal
Antibullying Efforts
Are Under Way, but
Assessment of Legal
Remedies Is
Incomplete


Federal Coordination          Education, HHS, and Justice have established coordinated efforts to carry
Efforts                       out research and broadly disseminate information on bullying. Education
                              has also provided key information about how federal civil rights laws can
                              be used to address bullying and is conducting a study of state bullying
                              laws and how selected school districts are addressing bullying. Three
                              federal efforts, in particular—formation of a coordinating committee,
                              establishment of a central website, and an informational campaign—have
                              provided the public with a range of information about bullying, through a
                              variety of media.

Coordinating Committee to     The Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Steering Committee serves
Promote Collaboration on      as a forum for federal agencies to develop and share information with
Bullying across the Federal   each other and the public. The committee was created in 2009 and is
Government                    composed of the Departments of Education, HHS, Justice, Agriculture,


                              Page 22                                             GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                                 Defense, and Interior, along with the Federal Trade Commission, the
                                 National Council on Disability, and the White House Initiative on Asian
                                 Americans and Pacific Islanders. Among other activities, the coordinating
                                 committee helped to plan a conference on bullying in March 2011 hosted
                                 by the White House, as well as annual conferences of the coordinating
                                 committee in August 2010 and September 2011. Following each annual
                                 conference, the committee has developed priorities and formed
                                 subcommittees to address those priorities. For example, after identifying
                                 a need for better coordination of bullying research, a research
                                 subcommittee was created after the August 2010 conference. Following
                                 the September 2011 conference, this subcommittee’s activities in the
                                 upcoming year will also include identifying best practices for training
                                 teachers as well as drawing attention to programs that could help youths
                                 develop interpersonal skills and manage their emotions.

Central Website to Provide       The three federal departments, along with the White House, established a
Consistent Federal Information   central federal website (www.stopbullying.gov, last accessed May 22,
to the Public                    2012), launched in March 2011 at the White House conference on
                                 bullying. The central website sought to consolidate the content of different
                                 federal sites into one location to provide free materials for the public.
                                 Hosted by HHS, with content and technical support from the Health
                                 Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the website aims to
                                 present a consistent federal message and features content arranged by
                                 target audience, such as teens, along with sections on special topics such
                                 as cyberbullying.

Informational Campaign to        HHS through HRSA launched the informational campaign called Stop
Raise Awareness about            Bullying Now! in 2004. Federal departments outside HHS that assist with
Bullying                         the campaign include the Departments of Education, Justice, Agriculture,
                                 Defense, and Interior. The campaign is designed for youth and adults to
                                 raise awareness, foster partnerships, and disseminate evidence-based
                                 findings to help prevent and intervene in instances of bullying. The
                                 informational campaign offers a variety of free materials, including a DVD
                                 with 14 cartoon episodes, 30 tip sheets based on research and evidence-
                                 based practices, public service announcements, posters, brochures,
                                 comic books, and kits for youth leaders and adults. According to data
                                 from HRSA as of August 2011, recipients of materials in mass mailings
                                 included, among others, all 66,000 public elementary and middle schools
                                 in the country, 17,000 libraries, relevant state health and education
                                 agencies, offices serving Indian and military youth, 4,000 Boys and Girls
                                 Clubs, relevant state health and education agencies, schools on military
                                 bases worldwide, and offices serving American Indian youth. (See app. V
                                 for more information on the campaign.) However, according to HHS


                                 Page 23                                          GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
officials, the campaign and its online content are currently in a period of
transition, as they adapt to the new interdepartmental website and its
governance.

While these efforts are still evolving, we found that they are consistent
with key practices that we determined can help or sustain coordination
efforts across federal agencies. 42 Specifically, we found that in each of
these three efforts that key agencies reached agreement on roles and
responsibilities. For example, the roles and responsibilities of the federal
agencies responsible for stopbullying.gov are spelled out in a governance
document, and the lead agency, HHS, for this website has executed
agreements to provide funding for the maintenance and operation of the
website. Similarly, we found that these agencies worked to establish
compatible policies and procedures, and to develop mechanisms to
monitor progress for these coordinated efforts. Appendix V provides more
information on federal coordination efforts on bullying.

In addition to these collaborative agency efforts to share information
about bullying, Education has disseminated information about federal civil
rights laws that can be used to address bullying, and key components of
state bullying laws. In October 2010, Education sent a letter to state and
local education officials outlining how federal civil rights laws can be
applied to bullying. The letter stated that student misconduct may trigger
school responsibilities under federal civil rights laws and provided
examples of behavior that may meet the threshold for violating the laws.
In December 2010, the department issued another letter that summarized
several key components of state bullying laws, such as specifying
prohibited behavior, development and implementation of school district
policies, and training and preventive education. As previously discussed,
following up on this letter, the department commissioned a study of state
bullying laws to determine the extent to which states and school districts
incorporate the key components into their laws and policies. In December
2011, Education issued the first part of this two-part study on state
bullying laws. 43



42
 GAO, Results-Oriented Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and Sustain
Collaboration among Federal Agencies, GAO-06-15 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 2005).
43
  U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development,
Policy and Program Studies Service. Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies
(Washington, D.C.: 2011).




Page 24                                                  GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
No Assessment of State   While Education, HHS, and Justice have initiated several efforts to better
Civil Rights Laws and    inform the public about how to utilize federal, state, and other resources
Procedures Has Been      to better address bullying, none of these efforts include an assessment of
                         state civil rights laws and procedures for filing complaints. Since some
Performed                states’ civil rights laws provide protection for groups not named in
                         applicable federal civil rights laws, collection and dissemination of such
                         information could assist in better understanding how these laws vary in
                         coverage and in the procedures states have in place for filing complaints.
                         For example, five states in our review—California, Illinois, Iowa,
                         Massachusetts, and Vermont—have established processes and
                         procedures for resolving civil rights complaints, and have empowered a
                         statewide organization with the authority to hold schools and school
                         districts accountable when discrimination is found, according to state
                         officials. Specifically, according to a state official, California’s Uniform
                         Complaint Process empowers its Department of Education’s Office of
                         Equal Opportunity to ensure compliance with state and federal civil rights
                         laws. California’s state code also requires uniform complaint procedures
                         that each school district within the state must follow when addressing
                         complaints of discrimination against protected groups, according to a
                         state official. The complaint process allows up to 60 days for an
                         investigation and decision to be rendered at the district level, unless a
                         child is directly in harm’s way and the school district is unresponsive, in
                         which case a complaint can be filed directly with the state. In Vermont,
                         the state’s Human Rights Commission acts as an independent agency
                         focused solely on the protection of civil rights, and if its investigation
                         determines unlawful discrimination occurred, the agency assists the
                         parties in negotiating a settlement. Human Rights Commission officials
                         told us if a settlement cannot be reached, the agency may choose to take
                         the case to court. However, they said that this usually does not happen
                         because cases are generally settled. The Massachusetts Department of
                         Elementary and Secondary Education has a formal process called the
                         Problem Resolution System that handles complaints that allege a school
                         or a district is not meeting legal requirements for education, including
                         complaints of discrimination. In each of the five states with established
                         processes and procedures for resolving civil rights complaints, the SEAs
                         include information on their websites about the civil rights complaint
                         process, including where to file, required information, and time frames.

                         According to their respective state officials, Arkansas and New Mexico
                         offer only limited legal options for protected classes with complaints of
                         discrimination based on school bullying because they lack a state entity
                         with the authority to investigate and hold school districts accountable for
                         such complaints. Although Arkansas has an Equity Assistance Center


                         Page 25                                           GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
              within its Department of Education that can serve as an intermediary
              between the complainant and the school district, its decisions lack the
              authority to discipline a school district, according to state officials. New
              Mexico has a human rights commission that receives and investigates
              complaints of discrimination based on protected classes, but the
              commission is focused on employment issues and does not address
              discrimination complaints related to education. As a result, the state lacks
              formal processes and procedures to address complaints of discrimination
              stemming from instances of bullying, according to state officials.
              Therefore, according to state officials from these two states, if an
              individual cannot afford an attorney to file a private right of action related
              to complaints of discrimination because of school bullying, the individual’s
              only legal option is to file a federal complaint.

              By not incorporating an assessment of state civil rights laws and
              procedures into their various bullying prevention efforts, federal agencies
              are overlooking a potentially important source of information. Building on
              information from Education’s study of state bullying laws and the letters
              they issued on federal civil rights laws, information on state civil rights
              laws and procedures would provide a broader and more complete
              perspective of the overall coverage of federal and state efforts to prevent
              and address bullying.


              Students who are bullied may seek recourse through a number of
Conclusions   avenues—local and state educational policies, state bullying laws, state
              civil rights laws, or federal civil rights laws. However, the nature and
              extent of protections available to them depend on the laws and policies of
              where they live or go to school. Education and Justice have taken
              important steps in assessing how federal civil rights laws can be used to
              help combat certain instances of bullying of protected classes of youth for
              which they have jurisdiction. And Education has completed a study of
              state bullying laws and is conducting another study looking at how school
              districts are implementing these laws. However, neither Education nor
              Justice has assessed state civil rights laws and procedures as they may
              relate to bullying. Many of the states’ civil rights laws we reviewed extend
              protections to classes of individuals beyond the groups protected at the
              federal level, but states vary in the groups that are explicitly protected;
              therefore, whether bullying victims have any recourse through civil rights
              laws can depend on the state in which they live or go to school. Also,
              states vary in their procedures for pursuing civil rights claims, which could
              also affect the ability to pursue a bullying-related discrimination claim.
              State civil rights laws, just like federal civil rights laws and state bullying


              Page 26                                            GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                      laws, can play an important role in addressing this important issue. More
                      information about state civil rights laws and procedures is a key missing
                      link and is needed by administration officials and decision makers alike, to
                      understand the potential overall legal protections available to students
                      who have been bullied.

                      Federal claimants would also benefit from knowing that options may be
                      available to them at the state level. This is particularly key when cases
                      are dismissed at the federal level because of a lack of jurisdiction. While
                      Justice routinely informs individuals when their complaints are dismissed
                      because of a lack of jurisdiction of possible recourse under their state civil
                      rights laws, Education does not. Routinely making this basic information
                      available would be another key step in helping ensure that bullying
                      victims are aware of some of the legal options available to them.

                      Multiple efforts to collect information about bullying have been under way
                      for several years; however, the prevalence of bullying of youths in certain
                      vulnerable demographic groups is not known. A greater effort by key
                      federal agencies to develop more information about the extent to which a
                      broader range of demographic groups are subject to bullying and bullying-
                      related discrimination would better inform federal efforts to prevent and
                      remedy bullying. Understanding the prevalence of bullying by
                      demographic groups would help administration officials develop additional
                      actions targeted at the greatest areas of need. This information, together
                      with an assessment of federal and state legal protections, could also aid
                      policymakers in determining whether additional actions are needed to
                      protect vulnerable groups of youths who are subjected to bullying.


                      To allow for a more comprehensive assessment of federal and state
Recommendations for   efforts to prevent and address bullying, we recommend the Secretary of
Executive Action      Education, in consultation with the Attorney General, as appropriate,
                      compile information in a one-time study—similar to its study of state
                      bullying laws—about state civil rights laws and procedures, as they may
                      pertain to bullying.

                      In order to better ensure that individuals are aware of their options to seek
                      legal redress, especially in cases where their complaints to Education are
                      not pursued because of a lack of jurisdiction, we recommend that the
                      Secretary of Education develop procedures to routinely inform individuals
                      who file complaints of discrimination stemming from bullying about the
                      potential availability of legal options under their state’s anti-discrimination
                      laws.


                      Page 27                                            GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                  To address gaps in knowledge about targets of bullying and
                  discrimination, we recommend that the Secretaries of Education and HHS
                  and the Attorney General work together to develop information in their
                  future surveys of youths’ health and safety issues on the extent to which
                  youths in various vulnerable demographic groups are bullied.

                  To aid policymakers and program administrators at the federal and state
                  levels in understanding more comprehensively what is being done to
                  address bullying and discrimination, we recommend that the Secretaries
                  of Education and HHS and the Attorney General, in conjunction with the
                  Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Steering Committee, assess the
                  extent to which legal protections against bullying exist for vulnerable
                  demographic groups. Such an assessment, to be comprehensive, should
                  make use of information federal agencies have already compiled on state
                  bullying laws and federal civil rights laws together with information from
                  our recommendations above to compile information on state civil rights
                  laws and collect more information on demographic groups in federal
                  surveys of youth health and safety issues.


                  We provided Education, HHS, and Justice an opportunity to comment on
Agency Comments   a draft of this report. Education and HHS provided written responses,
                  which appear in appendixes VII and VIII, respectively. Each of the
                  agencies provided technical comments, which we incorporated as
                  appropriate. Justice chose not to provide a written response.

                  Education disagreed with our recommendation that it compile information
                  about state civil rights laws and procedures as they pertain to bullying.
                  Specifically, Education noted that it does not have jurisdiction over state
                  civil rights laws, nor the appropriate expertise, to interpret and advise on
                  these laws. The department stressed that its previous analysis of state
                  bullying laws was limited to compiling a list of statutes or regulations and
                  identifying key components of statutes and regulations. Further,
                  Education suggested that compiling information about state civil rights
                  laws and procedures would only be useful if kept current, and that
                  undergoing such a time-intensive and costly survey and review of state’s
                  civil rights laws would not be an appropriate use of the department’s
                  limited resources.

                  We continue to believe that a one-time compilation of state civil rights
                  laws and procedures would be beneficial, and provide a basis, along with
                  other information, for analyzing the overall legal protections that are
                  available for vulnerable demographic groups. Such an assessment would


                  Page 28                                           GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
help determine the extent to which states are positioned to respond to
these types of civil rights complaints and to identify those instances where
certain students are left with little recourse to pursue discrimination claims
simply because of the state in which they reside or go to school. While we
appreciate the work involved in any analysis of state laws, we believe that
Education can develop a methodological approach that would limit the
scope of their work and hone in on those aspects of civil rights laws that
come into play when bullying leads to allegations of discrimination. For
example, this review could be limited to compiling basic information about
state civil rights laws, such as which protected classes are included and
whether they apply in educational settings, and may not require an
extensive analysis of state case law. In implementing a study of this type,
Education may consider approaches similar to those they used in their
previous work on state bullying laws. Alternatively, Education officials
could choose to rely on the knowledge and expertise of cognizant state
officials by conducting a survey or otherwise soliciting pertinent
information, rather than undertaking the bulk of this work themselves. We
acknowledge Education’s concerns regarding keeping the information on
state civil rights laws updated and have modified language in the report
and our recommendation to clarify that this is meant to be a onetime
effort.

Regarding our second recommendation, Education indicated that they are
considering whether to develop procedures that would inform
complainants whose complaints are dismissed for lack of jurisdiction that
they may have possible recourse under state or local laws. We
encourage Education to review the language that Justice currently
includes in similar notification letters. As Education suggested, more
detailed guidance regarding rights and procedures for seeking redress
may then be provided by state and local agencies.

Both HHS and Education agreed with our recommendation that they
develop additional information in their surveys about youths in various
vulnerable groups who are bullied.

In response to our recommendation that Education, HHS, and the
Attorney General assess the extent to which protections exist for various
demographic groups likely to be the target of bullies, HHS agreed with the
recommendation and Education cited many of its ongoing efforts to this
end. We commend Education on its current efforts as well as other efforts
we have discussed in our report. However, as we point out in our
previous recommendations, more information is needed on state civil
rights laws as well as about how various demographic groups are


Page 29                                           GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
affected by bullying. Utilizing all of the information at their disposal,
including information we recommend be collected, Education, HHS, and
Justice could work together to assess how well the available laws and
resources address areas of need and identify measures that could be
taken to help prevent bullying. We believe that it is an important step to
assimilate information on resources and laws with research about areas
of need in order to assist federal policy makers and agency officials in
their efforts to address this important issue. Based on questions we
received during discussions with Justice on our report, we modified this
recommendation to clarify that such an assessment should make use of
information from our previous recommendations in this report, as well as
information that federal agencies have already gathered, and that the
three agencies in our review could work through the Federal Partners in
Bullying Prevention Steering Committee to conduct such an assessment.


As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce the contents of
this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days from the
report date. At that time, we will send copies to the Secretaries of
Education, and Health and Human Services, and the Attorney General;
relevant congressional committees; and other interested parties. In
addition, the report will be available on GAO’s website at
http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions about the report, please contact
me at (206) 287-4809 or calboml@gao.gov. Contact points for our Offices
of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last
page of this report. GAO staff that made major contributions to this report
are listed in appendix IX.



Linda M. Calbom
Western Regional Director




Page 30                                          GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
                        Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
                        Methodology



Methodology

                        To obtain information on the prevalence of school bullying of victims in
Analysis of Surveys     the United States, we primarily compared estimates and methodologies of
and Literature Review   available data on being bullied in four nationally representative surveys by
                        federal statistical agencies conducted from 2005 to 2009. Specifically, we
                        compared data on being victims of bullying from the Youth Risk Behavior
                        Survey, the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization
                        Survey, the Health Behavior in School-aged Children Survey, and the
                        National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (see table 4). We
                        selected these surveys based on interviews with officials at the
                        Departments of Education (Education), Health and Human Services
                        (HHS), and Justice (Justice), as well as the similar work of the Centers for
                        Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on this topic that compared the
                        four surveys. We evaluated these federal surveys for methodological
                        rigor, as well as to determine the extent to which the data could be used
                        to offer a national perspective on bullying in schools. This included
                        interviews with researchers, as appropriate. We determined that the data
                        were sufficiently reliable for our purposes. Because the survey data were
                        collected using generalizable probability samples, this sample is only one
                        of a large number of samples that might have been selected. Since each
                        sample could provide different estimates, we have used 95 percent
                        confidence intervals to show the precision of our results. All percentage
                        estimates used in this report have 95 percent confidence intervals of
                        within plus or minus 2.1 percentage points, unless otherwise noted. In
                        addition to sampling error, surveys are subject to nonsampling error, such
                        as how respondents interpret questions, including any biases or
                        tendencies to provide desirable answers or false answers. Although
                        respondents self-reported being bullied in the surveys, this approach to
                        measure the prevalence of bullying is viewed as valid and robust,
                        according to some previous research on bullying. We also reviewed
                        certain other relevant research as appropriate. Finally, we conducted
                        interviews with officials at Education and HHS to obtain information about
                        how different surveys and research define bullying and their efforts to
                        develop a uniform definition of bullying for research purposes.




                        Page 31                                          GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                                           Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
                                           Methodology




Table 4: Nationally Representative Surveys We Reviewed That Ask about Youths Being Bullied, among Other Topics

                                                                                                                            Age/grade of
Survey                           Sponsoring federal agency                      Purpose                                     youth surveyed
Youth Risk Behavior Survey       HHS’s CDC                                      To monitor priority health risk behaviors   Grades 9-12
       a
(YRBS)                                                                          that contribute to the leading causes of
                                                                                death, disability, and social problems
                                                                                among youth and adults in this country
National Crime Victimization     Education’s National Center for                To collect additional information about     Ages 12-18
Survey’s (NCVS) School Crime     Education Statistics and Justice’s             school-related victimizations on a national
Supplement (SCS)                 Bureau of Justice Statistics                   level
Health Behavior in School-aged   HHS’s National Institutes of Health To better understand the health behaviors Grades 6-10
                b
Children (HBSC)                                                      of youths and their social context during
                                                                     early adolescence
National Survey of Children’s    Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice           To examine past-year and lifetime           Ages birth-17
Exposure to Violence             and Delinquency Prevention and                 exposure to violence of children age 17
(NatSCEV)                        HHS’s CDC                                      and younger across several categories of
                                                                                violence
                                           Source: GAO analysis and information from CDC.

                                           a
                                            We reviewed the national YRBS rather than associated state and local surveys.
                                           b
                                            HBSC is an international survey. For the purposes of our work, we reviewed the sample used for the
                                           national survey rather than the sample used for the international data.

                                           To describe the effects of school bullying on victims, we conducted a
                                           literature review. To identify studies on the effects of bullying on victims,
                                           we searched numerous databases—including MEDLINE, Embase,
                                           Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), ProQuest, PsycINFO,
                                           Sociological Abstracts, Social Services Abstracts, and WorldCat. We also
                                           consulted with officials at Education, HHS, and Justice to identify relevant
                                           studies. Because of the extensive available literature, we limited our
                                           review to meta-analyses, which analyze other studies and synthesize
                                           their findings. Additionally, we limited our review to articles published in
                                           peer-reviewed journals. Our literature search covered studies published
                                           from 2001 through July 2011. Subsequently, new meta-analyses were
                                           brought to our attention by agency officials, and we reviewed them to the
                                           extent they were consistent with our search criteria. We identified seven
                                           relevant studies. We reviewed the methodologies of these studies to
                                           ensure that they were sound and determined that they were sufficiently
                                           reliable. The meta-analyses synthesized the findings of studies of school-
                                           aged children in a variety of countries, including the United States. They
                                           were not designed to establish causal relationships, nor are the results of
                                           the meta-analyses generalizable.




                                           Page 32                                                               GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                           Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
                           Methodology




States and Local School    To describe approaches that selected states and local school districts are
District Interviews and    taking, we reviewed relevant state bullying laws and regulations, as well
Document Review            as guidance and other documents from eight selected states and
                           conducted interviews with state education officials. We selected eight
                           states—Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico,
                           Vermont, and Virginia—based on the following criteria: Each has bullying
                           laws or regulations, and they vary with respect to bullying definitions and
                           enumeration of protected classes, geographic variation, and student
                           enrollment. Further, we selected three of these states (New Mexico,
                           Vermont, and Virginia), which vary on the characteristics listed above, to
                           review policies and guidance of local school districts and conduct
                           interviews with school officials. We selected a total of six school districts,
                           two in each state—Albuquerque Public Schools, Rio Rancho Public
                           Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, Warren County Public Schools,
                           Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, and Windham Southwest
                           Supervisory Union. The six school districts were selected from the
                           National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Common Core of Data
                           Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey: School Year
                           2008–09. The Common Core of Data (CCD) nonfiscal surveys consist of
                           data submitted annually to NCES by state educational agencies (SEA).
                           School districts and schools were selected to reflect a range of size, and
                           urbanicity (urban, suburban, or rural), as well as racial and socioeconomic
                           diversity. Participation in the National School Lunch Program was used as
                           a proxy for socioeconomic status. We held interviews with central
                           administrators, principals, school staff, and parents. In several instances,
                           multiple individuals attended an interview; for example six parents
                           attended one parent interview. During the interviews, we asked about
                           measures taken to prevent bullying, school officials’ response to bullying
                           behavior, and lessons learned. We analyzed narrative responses
                           thematically.


Review of Laws and         To identify legal options that federal and selected state governments have
Discrimination Complaint   in place when bullying leads to allegations of discrimination, we reviewed
Processes                  relevant federal and state anti-discrimination laws and regulations,
                           selected federal court decisions, as well as guidance and other
                           documents of the federal government and the eight states selected for
                           review. 1 We also conducted interviews with federal officials in the


                           1
                            State court decisions were beyond the scope of our review, so we did not review such
                           decisions.




                           Page 33                                                  GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                          Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
                          Methodology




                          Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the
                          Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (CRT), Educational
                          Opportunities Section, as well as with state officials. State officials were
                          from various departments, including state educational agencies and
                          human rights or civil rights commissions or departments. 2 During the
                          interviews with federal and state officials, we asked about provisions,
                          discrimination complaint processes, complaint resolutions, and legal
                          mechanisms available to individuals who are not members of a protected
                          class.


Interviews with Federal   To address how key federal agencies are coordinating their efforts to
Officials and Document    combat school bullying, we interviewed officials from Education, HHS,
Review                    and Justice and reviewed relevant documents. These departments were
                          represented with officials from many component agencies. For Education,
                          we spoke to officials from the Office of Safe and Healthy Students
                          (formerly the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools), OCR, and Office of
                          Special Education Programs. For HHS, we spoke to officials from the
                          Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Office of the Assistant
                          Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, CDC, Health Resources and
                          Services Administration (HRSA), National Institutes of Health, and
                          Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
                          For Justice, we spoke to officials from the Office of Community Oriented
                          Policing Services, CRT, and Office of Justice Programs. We focused on
                          these three departments, given their leadership roles on an
                          interdepartmental coordinating committee and website
                          (www.stopbullying.gov, last accessed May 22, 2012) on bullying. We
                          analyzed coordination of efforts based on key practices that GAO has
                          previously identified as effective coordination practices. 3 For example, in
                          our interviews and analysis, we asked questions about such effective
                          coordination practices as agreeing on roles and responsibilities or
                          establishing compatible policies, procedures, or other means to operate
                          across agency boundaries. We focused on these practices, among those
                          GAO has identified, based on our professional judgment and relevance




                          2
                           Officials from the state of Virginia declined to speak with us about this component of our
                          review.
                          3
                           GAO, Results-Oriented Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and Sustain
                          Collaboration among Federal Agencies, GAO-06-15 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 2005).




                          Page 34                                                     GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




for the coordinated federal efforts regarding bullying. 4 Related documents
that we reviewed included plans, meeting agendas, conference materials,
interagency agreements, and educational materials provided to the
public. We also attended the second annual bullying prevention
conference of the interdepartmental coordinating committee. In addition,
we conducted interviews with Education, HHS, and Justice officials about
efforts within their departments to combat bullying. We also reviewed
relevant documents and agency websites.

We conducted this performance audit from April 2011 through May 2012
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
These standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objectives.




4
 As we have previously reported in GAO-06-15, we recognize that there is a wide range of
situations and circumstances in which agencies work together and that not all practices
may be necessary or be as relevant for particular coordinated efforts. For example, during
the course of our audit work, we determined that certain other practices that may promote
coordination were not as applicable in this particular context, given competing priorities of
departments or the new nature of the coordination.




Page 35                                                     GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix II: Comparison of the Definition
                                              Appendix II: Comparison of the Definition and
                                              Measurement of Bullying in Four Nationally
                                              Representative Surveys


and Measurement of Bullying in Four
Nationally Representative Surveys
                                              Table 5 compares how four nationally representative surveys define and
                                              measure bullying.

Table 5: Selected Aspects of the Definition and Measurement of Bullying in Four Nationally Representative Surveys

                                                   National Crime                                                   National Survey of
                         National Youth Risk       Victimization Survey              Health Behavior in             Children’s Exposure
                         Behavior Survey           (NCVS), School Crime              School-aged Children           to Violence
                         (YRBS) 2009               Supplement (SCS) 2009             (HBSC) 2005/06                 (NatSCEV) 2008
Definition of bullying, if “When 1 or more           “What students do at school     “When another student, or No explicit definition is
any                        students tease,           that make you feel bad or are   a group of students, say or presented
                           threaten, spread          hurtful to you”                 do nasty and unpleasant
                           rumors about, hit,                                        things to him or her. It is
                           shove, or hurt another                                    also bullying when a
                           student over and over                                     student is teased
                           again. It is not bullying                                 repeatedly in a way he or
                           when 2 students of                                        she does not like or when
                           about the same                                            he or she is deliberately left
                           strength or power                                         out of things. But it is NOT
                           argue or fight or tease                                   BULLYING when two
                           each other in a friendly                                  students of about the same
                           way.”                                                     strength or power argue or
                                                                                     fight. It is also not bullying
                                                                                     when a student is teased in
                                                                                     a friendly and playful way.”
Use of a question on     Yes, but no questions No, but overall prevalence is         Yes, and questions follow      No, but there are
                                                a                                                            b
overall prevalence       about types of bullying calculated based on                 about types of bullying        questions about three
                                                  affirmative answers to one or                                     types of bullying.
                                                  more types of bullying
Use of questions about Yes                         Yes                               Yes                            Yes
gender and
race/ethnicity
(see app. III for
           c
estimates)
Use of questions about No                          Yes                               Yes                            No
frequency of being
bullied in the past year
or couple of months
                                                                                                                                    d
Age/grade of youth       Grades 9-12               Ages 12-18                        Grades 6-10                    Ages birth-17
surveyed
Time period for          During past 12 months During this school year               In the past couple of          In the past year, over
question about being                                                                 months                         a lifetime.
bullied
                                                                                                     e
Frequency of survey      Every 2 years             Every 2 years                     Every 4 years                  Periodic




                                              Page 36                                                        GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                                        Appendix II: Comparison of the Definition and
                                        Measurement of Bullying in Four Nationally
                                        Representative Surveys




                                               National Crime                                                           National Survey of
                    National Youth Risk        Victimization Survey                      Health Behavior in             Children’s Exposure
                    Behavior Survey            (NCVS), School Crime                      School-aged Children           to Violence
                    (YRBS) 2009                Supplement (SCS) 2009                     (HBSC) 2005/06                 (NatSCEV) 2008
Purpose of survey   To monitor priority        To collect additional                     To better understand the       To examine past-year
                    health risk behaviors      information about school-                 health behaviors of children   and lifetime exposure
                    that contribute to the     related victimizations on a               and their social context       to violence of children
                                                                                                                   g
                    leading causes of          national level                            during early adolescence       age 17 and younger
                    death, disability, and                                                                              across several
                    social problems among                                                                               categories of violence
                    youth and adults in this
                            f
                    country
                                        Source: GAO analysis and information from CDC.

                                        a
                                         YRBS did not ask about types of bullying in the 2009 survey, but the 2011 survey included a
                                        question on cyberbullying.
                                        b
                                         Thus, it is possible for the overall prevalence to appear less than the prevalence for certain types of
                                        bullying behaviors. According to one researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) involved in
                                        the HBSC, respondents may be more inclined to respond affirmatively to a specific type of behavior
                                        rather than an overall, or general, question on bullying.
                                        c
                                         We did not include estimates for NatSCEV in appendix III, as this survey did not provide an overall
                                        estimate but reported estimates of prevalence for certain types of behaviors in the past year.
                                        Estimates are for youth aged 0-17. They include school and nonschool settings and being victimized
                                        by a peer or sibling. See, for example, David Finkelhor et al., “Violence, Abuse, and Crime Exposure
                                        in a National Sample of Children and Youth.” Pediatrics, vol. 124, no. 5 (2009).
                                        d
                                        For NatSCEV, youth aged 10 and older were interviewed, while adult caregivers of youth under 10
                                        were interviewed.
                                        e
                                         According to NIH officials involved in the HBSC, the future of the HBSC is uncertain, partly because
                                        of budget constraints.
                                        f
                                        We reviewed the national YRBS rather than associated state and local surveys.
                                        g
                                         HBSC is an international survey. For the purposes of our work, we reviewed the sample used for the
                                        national survey rather than the sample used for the international data.




                                        Page 37                                                                GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix III: Selected Data on National
              Appendix III: Selected Data on National
              Prevalence of Youth Who Report Being Bullied
              in School


Prevalence of Youth Who Report Being
Bullied in School
              This appendix provides estimates of the overall prevalence of youth who
              reported being bullied by sex and by race/ethnicity. Three of the four
              federal surveys that we reviewed present an estimate of overall
              prevalence of being bullied, and for these three surveys, the results of
              each are shown separately by sex and by race/ethnicity. Unless
              otherwise noted, all estimates in these tables have 95 percent confidence
              intervals of within plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

              The difference between boys and girls reporting that they were bullied
              was statistically significant in one survey (YRBS), with girls reporting a
              higher percentage of bullying, but was not statistically significant in the
              other two surveys (SCS and HBSC). See table 6.

              Table 6: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being Bullied by Sex in Three National
              Surveys

                  Sex                      YRBS 2009                   NCVS SCS 2009          HBSC 2005/2006
                                                                                                                   a
                  Male                               18.7                         26.6                      28.0
                  Female                             21.2                         29.5                       26.1
              Source: GAO analysis of YRBS 2009, NCVS SCS 2009, HBSC 2005/2006.

              a
               This estimate has a 95 percent confidence interval of within plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

              White youth reported being bullied at higher percentages than African-
              American youth in two of the three surveys (YRBS and HBSC), while the
              other survey found no difference. In two of the three surveys (YRBS and
              HBSC), differences between the overall prevalence for white compared
              with Hispanic youth and for African-American youth compared with
              Hispanic youth were not statistically significant. 1 In the other survey,
              Hispanics reported a lower percentage of bullying than whites or African-
              Americans. Asian-American youths reported a lower percentage of
              bullying in the one survey (NCVS) that captured information for that
              demographic group. See table 7.




              1
                  We tested for differences using a significance level of 0.05.




              Page 38                                                              GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix III: Selected Data on National
Prevalence of Youth Who Report Being Bullied
in School




Table 7: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being Bullied by Race/Ethnicity in Three
National Surveys

    Race/ethnicity                       YRBS 2009               NCVS SCS 2009         HBSC 2005/2006
                                                                                  a                      b,c
    White non-Hispanic                                   21.6              29.3                   28.6
                                                                                 a,d                     b,c
    Black non-Hispanic                                   13.7             29.1                    22.7
                                                                                 a,d                     b,c
    Hispanic                                             18.5             25.5                    26.4
                                                             e                    d                        e
    Asian, not Hispanic or Latino          not applicable                  17.3           not applicable
                                                             e                    d                        c
    Other                                  not applicable                  26.7                    28.6
Source: GAO analysis of YRBS 2009, NCVS SCS 2009, HBSC 2005/2006.

a
 In the SCS, these three racial or ethnic groups were labeled as (1) white, not Hispanic or Latino; (2)
black, not Hispanic or Latino; and (3) Hispanic or Latino, respectively.
b
 In the HBSC, these three racial or ethnic groups were labeled as (1) Caucasian, (2) African-
American, and (3) Hispanic, respectively.
c
 These estimates have 95 percent confidence intervals of within plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
d
    These estimates have 95 percent confidence intervals of within plus or minus 9.0 percentage points.
e
    Data were not collected in this survey in this category.




Page 39                                                                GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix IV: Selected Data on National
               Appendix IV: Selected Data on National
               Prevalence of Certain Types of Bullying
               Behaviors


Prevalence of Certain Types of Bullying
Behaviors
               This appendix provides estimates of the prevalence of being bullied for
               certain types of bullying behaviors. Three of the four federal surveys that
               we reviewed provide estimates of the prevalence of being bullied for
               certain types of behaviors, and the results of each are shown separately.
               Unless otherwise noted, all estimates in these tables have 95 percent
               confidence intervals of within plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

               These surveys also found that boys may be subject to somewhat different
               types of bullying than girls. For example, estimates from SCS and HBSC
               showed that a higher percentage of boys were bullied physically than
               girls, while girls were more commonly bullied than boys with rumors or
               social exclusion, which are examples of relational bullying, or bullying
               using interpersonal relationships.

               Table 8: NCVS SCS 2009: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being Bullied for
               Certain Types of Bullying Behaviors

                                                                                Estimate (percentage) for this
                   Type of bullying                                                              school year
                   Overall prevalence of being bullieda                                                      28.0%
                   Made fun of, called names, or insulted                                                     18.8
                   Spread rumors                                                                              16.5
                   Pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on                                                         9.0
                   Cyberbullied                                                                                6.0
                   Threatened with harm                                                                        5.7
                   Excluded from activities on purpose                                                         4.7
                   Tried to make do things they did not want to do                                             3.6
                   Property destroyed on purpose                                                               3.3
               Source: GAO analysis of NCVS SCS 2009.

               a
                A separate question on this survey asks about being cyberbullied. This estimate of overall
               prevalence therefore does not include being cyberbullied.




               Page 40                                                           GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix IV: Selected Data on National
Prevalence of Certain Types of Bullying
Behaviors




Table 9: HBSC 2005/2006: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being Bullied for
Certain Types of Bullying Behaviors

                                                            Estimate (percentage) for the past
    Type of bullying                                                        couple of months
                                          a
    Overall prevalence of being bullied                                                          27.0
    Spreading rumor: told lies or spread false
    rumors                                                                                       31.9
    Called mean names, was made fun of, or
    teased in a hurtful way                                                                      31.5
    Social isolation: excluded from a group of
    friends or was ignored                                                                       25.6
    Bullied with mean names and comments
    about race or color                                                                          13.1
    Hit, kicked, pushed, shoved around, or
    locked indoors                                                                               12.8
    Bullied with mean names and comments
    about religion                                                                                 8.5
    Bullied using a computer or e-mail
    messages or pictures                                                                           8.1
    Bullied using a cell phone                                                                     5.7
Source: GAO analysis of HBSC 2005/2006.

a
 As separate HBSC survey questions ask about the overall prevalence and the prevalence of specific
types of bullying behaviors, it is possible for the overall prevalence to appear less than the prevalence
for certain types of bullying behaviors. According to one researcher at NIH involved in the HBSC,
respondents may be more inclined to respond affirmatively to a specific type of behavior rather than
an overall, or general, question on bullying.


Table 10: NatSCEV 2008: Estimates of Youth Who Reported Being Bullied for
Certain Types of Bullying Behaviors

    Type of bullying                                   Estimate (percentage) for the past year
    Overall prevalence of being bullied                                                             N/A
    Teasing or emotional bullying                                                                  19.7
    Physical bullying or intimidation                                                              13.2
    Internet harassment                                                                             1.8
Source: GAO analysis of NatSCEV 2008.


Note: For NatSCEV, youth aged 10 and older were interviewed, while adult caregivers of youth under
10 were interviewed.




Page 41                                                             GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix V: Coordination Practices of Key
                                          Appendix V: Coordination Practices of Key
                                          Interdepartmental Federal Efforts on Bullying



Interdepartmental Federal Efforts on
Bullying
                                          In table 11 are selected coordination practices that we have previously
                                          found help to enhance and sustain coordination across federal agencies,
                                          as well as the ways that key interdepartmental activities against bullying
                                          reflect those coordination practices.

Table 11: Practices for Key Coordinated Federal Efforts Specifically on Bullying

Selected coordination         Federal Partners in Bullying           Central website                      Stop Bullying Now!
practices                     Prevention Steering Committee          (stopbullying.gov)                   campaign
Agree on roles and            Education through its Office of Safe   The roles and responsibilities of    HRSA has collaborated and
responsibilities              and Healthy Students has agreed        federal agencies are outlined in a   received funding from
                              to serve as chair. HHS through         governance document that serves      Education from the start of
                              HRSA served as cochair until           as the framework for coordination    the campaign until fiscal year
                                              a
                              October 2011. On the one hand,         across agencies and departments.     2010. Unlike in prior years,
                              these agencies have not developed      For example, the participating       in fiscal year 2011,
                              a formal document that sets their      federal agencies serve on the two    Education and HRSA were
                              overall roles and responsibilities,    governing bodies of the website:     unable to execute an
                              given the fluid nature and rapid       (1) the editorial board, which       interagency agreement
                              evolution of the committee and its     reviews and develops content for     because of time constraints.
                              external environment.                  the website, and (2) the steering    Instead, HHS’s SAMHSA
                              On the other hand, despite the         committee, which makes               provided funding to reprint
                              committee’s evolving organization,     managerial decisions for higher-     and disseminate
                                                                                                    b
                              agencies can and in some cases         level planning and resources.        informational materials for
                              have formally agreed on roles and      HHS’s lead agency, the Office of     the campaign.
                              responsibilities for particular        the Assistant Secretary for Public
                              projects. For example, the project     Affairs, executed agreements in
                              to develop a uniform definition of     summer 2011 with Education,
                              bullying for research purposes         HHS’s Office of the Assistant
                              features an interagency agreement      Secretary for Planning and
                              between Education and CDC              Evaluation, HRSA, and SAMHSA
                              signed in 2011.                        that provide funding to maintain
                                                                     and operate the website.




                                          Page 42                                                     GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                                              Appendix V: Coordination Practices of Key
                                              Interdepartmental Federal Efforts on Bullying




Selected coordination            Federal Partners in Bullying             Central website                         Stop Bullying Now!
practices                        Prevention Steering Committee            (stopbullying.gov)                      campaign
Establish compatible policies,   Education and CDC signed an              Four agreements provide for the         An agreement between
procedures, and other means      interagency agreement for the            maintenance and operation of the        HRSA and Education (more
to operate across agency         project on the uniform definition of     website.                                recently SAMHSA) has
boundaries, including            bullying for research purposes.          The governing bodies have so far        provided for the
frequent communication           The committee so far has used            operated with frequent                  development, publication,
                                 regular phone meetings, along with       communication. According to HHS         and dissemination of
                                 its conferences, to share                officials, the editorial board meets    informational materials of the
                                 information among federal                approximately every 2 to 4 weeks        campaign.
                                 agencies and potentially with the        and corresponds by e-mail, and          HRSA has communicated
                                 public. According to Education           the steering committee meets            across six federal
                                 officials, monthly or even biweekly      quarterly and as needed.                departments. The campaign
                                 phone meetings as well as                                                        also relies on its more than
                                 correspondence by e-mail have                                                    140 partner organizations to
                                 facilitated preparations for the three                                           help disseminate materials,
                                 conferences in 2010 and 2011.                                                    such as chapters of the
                                 Such internal communication,                                                     American Academy of
                                 including electronic Listservs, has                                              Pediatrics or Boys and Girls
                                 also promoted sharing information                                                Clubs of America. One way
                                 among federal agencies on                                                        that these government and
                                 upcoming opportunities that may                                                  nongovernment partners
                                 be relevant to bullying, such as                                                 may communicate and
                                 upcoming webinars, grant                                                         provide input to HRSA’s
                                 announcements, or recent research                                                communications contractor
                                 publications.                                                                    is seven external work
                                                                                                                  groups that have provided
                                                                                                                  expertise and reviewed
                                                                                                                  materials, especially when
                                                                                                                  the campaign was designed.




                                              Page 43                                                            GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
                                            Appendix V: Coordination Practices of Key
                                            Interdepartmental Federal Efforts on Bullying




Selected coordination           Federal Partners in Bullying                    Central website                                Stop Bullying Now!
practices                       Prevention Steering Committee                   (stopbullying.gov)                             campaign
Develop mechanisms to           The committee as a whole does not               HHS and Education officials said               HRSA and its
monitor, evaluate, and report   have formal mechanisms to                       they monitor metrics about the                 communications contractor
results                         monitor results.                                use of the website, such as the                track the distribution of the
                                Specific projects within the                    number of visits. From its launch              campaign’s materials.
                                committee, such as the project of               in March 2011 to the end of                    According to data from
                                the research subcommittee on the                December 2011, the website                     HRSA as of August 2011,
                                uniform definition of bullying, may             received more than 1.1 million                 recipients of the materials in
                                have formal time frames and                     visits, according to HHS data.                 mass mailings included,
                                deliverable products. This project              HHS officials said that they plan to           among others, all 66,000
                                may help other efforts to monitor               add a qualitative feature for                  public elementary and
                                the extent of bullying and evaluate             feedback from users and conduct                middle schools in the
                                programs.                                       additional usability testing of the            country, 17,000 libraries,
                                                                                website as it continues to evolve              relevant state health and
                                Besides the uniform definition,                                                                education agencies, schools
                                another way that the committee                  in its second phase.
                                                                                                                               on military bases worldwide,
                                and its research subcommittee are                                                              and offices serving American
                                helping others to monitor and                                                                  Indian youth.
                                evaluate antibullying efforts is by                                                            Nongovernment and
                                sharing information on evaluation                                                              government partners
                                research. Because of funding                                                                   distributed roughly 92,000
                                constraints and stipulations, the                                                              additional materials from
                                research subcommittee has mainly                                                               July 2007 to August 2011
                                focused its activities about                                                                   through a variety of
                                evaluation research on participating                                                           organizations.
                                in local conferences, understanding
                                existing publications, and obtaining                                                           HRSA has received
                                information from researchers,                                                                  feedback on the materials
                                including any suggestions for                                                                  from its government and
                                additional research.                                                                           nongovernment partners
                                                                                                                               through the seven
                                                                                                                               implementation working
                                                                                                                               groups through e-mail and
                                                                                                                               occasional phone outreach.
                                                                                                                               Also, in structured
                                                                                                                               discussions held with partner
                                                                                                                               organizations three times
                                                                                                                               since 2003, many
                                                                                                                               organizations reported using
                                                                                                                               the campaign’s materials to
                                                                                                                               raise awareness about the
                                                                                                                               problem of bullying.
                                                                                                                               HRSA officials said that the
                                                                                                                               campaign’s impact has not
                                                                                                                               been formally evaluated
                                                                                                                               because of funding
                                                                                                                               constraints such that funding
                                                                                                                               for an evaluation could divert
                                                                                                                               resources from delivery of
                                                                                                                               the campaign.
                                            Source: GAO analysis of information from Education, HHS, and Justice officials.




                                            Page 44                                                                           GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix V: Coordination Practices of Key
Interdepartmental Federal Efforts on Bullying




a
 Prior to September 2011, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students within the Office of Elementary
and Secondary Education was a separate office, the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. The
organizational change followed funding reductions to the separate Office of Safe and Drug-Free
Schools, including reductions to its grant programs.

b
 The first phase of www.stopbullying.gov relied on three governing bodies, which the governance
document reflects. HHS officials said that, for the second phase, federal officials decided to eliminate
one of the three bodies to streamline the management of the website.




Page 45                                                             GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VI: Additional Federal Programs
                                               Appendix VI: Additional Federal Programs and
                                               Services Are Available to Combat Bullying



and Services Are Available to Combat
Bullying
                                               In addition to supporting antibullying activities, the Departments of
                                               Education, HHS, and Justice support more broadly focused services and
                                               programs that may be used for bullying prevention. Generally, bullying
                                               prevention represents one of many allowable activities within these
                                               services and programs. Within each agency, officials identified a range of
                                               services and programs, including technical assistance, funding
                                               opportunities, information sharing, and research, that may include bullying
                                               prevention. For example, HHS provides funding for the Children’s Safety
                                               Network (CSN), a national resource center for the prevention of childhood
                                               injuries and violence. See table 12.

Table 12: Selected Services and Programs That Can Be Used to Support Bullying Prevention

Program or service                             Description
HHS
15+ Make Time to Listen–Take Time to           An initiative to promote healthy child development and to prevent youth and school-based
Talk                                           violence.
                                           a
Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative       Grants support school districts in the development of communitywide approaches to
                                               creating safe and drug-free schools and promoting healthy childhood development.
Children’s Safety Network                      A national resource center for the prevention of childhood injuries and violence that,
                                               among other things, provides technical assistance on injury prevention planning,
                                               promotes child and adolescent health and safety, and disseminates injury prevention
                                               research.
Maternal and Child Health Services Block       Provides funds to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 6 territories to promote the
Grant                                          health of mothers and children.
Education
Safe and Supportive Schools grants             Grants to states to measure school safety and to help intervene in those schools with the
                                               greatest safety needs.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and           A national technical assistance center focused on improving student behavior to foster
Support Technical Assistance Center            academic instruction.
Justice
National Training and Technical                Provides technical assistance to individuals in the juvenile justice field on a range of
Assistance Center                              topics, including webinars on bullying intervention and civil rights.
Secure Our Schools grants                      Provides funding to state, local, or tribal governments to assist with the development of
                                               school safety resources.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Describes statistics, research, training, technical assistance, and programs funded
Prevention (OJJDP) bulletins               through OJJDP grants and contracts, and includes the Bullying in School series.
                                               Source: Agency program information.


                                               Note: Agency officials reported that it would be difficult to obtain specific spending information on
                                               bullying for these services and programs. Furthermore, it could be misleading to include total service
                                               or program amounts because it would misrepresent funding for bullying activities.
                                               a
                                                The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative (SS/HS) is a collaborative program supported by three
                                               federal agencies—HHS, Education, and Justice.




                                               Page 46                                                            GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VI: Additional Federal Programs and
Services Are Available to Combat Bullying




While these programs and services generally support a broader range of
activities than just bullying, several of them have been used to directly
address bullying. For example, several grantees have used Safe
Schools/Healthy Students funding to implement bullying prevention
programs. Also, in fiscal year 2010, 2 of the 11 SEAs awarded Safe and
Supportive Schools grants devoted resources to bullying prevention.
While these services and programs do not always exclusively focus on
bullying prevention, officials across the three federal agencies—
Education, HHS, and Justice—agreed that their emphasis on violence
reduction and healthy behaviors can help prevent and reduce bullying
behavior, even if the funds are not used specifically to address bullying.




Page 47                                          GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VII: Comments from the
             Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
             of Education



Department of Education




             Page 48                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
of Education




Page 49                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
of Education




Page 50                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
of Education




Page 51                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
of Education




Page 52                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
of Education




Page 53                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
of Education




Page 54                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VII: Comments from the Department
of Education




Page 55                                      GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VIII: Comments from the
             Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
             of Health and Human Services



Department of Health and Human Services




             Page 56                                       GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
of Health and Human Services




Page 57                                       GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
Appendix IX: GAO Contacts and Staff
                  Appendix IX: GAO Contacts and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  Linda M. Calbom, (206) 287-4809 or calboml@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  Bryon Gordon (Assistant Director), Ramona L. Burton (Analyst-in-
Staff             Charge), Susannah Compton, Alex Galuten, Avani Locke, Ashley McCall,
Acknowledgments   Sheila McCoy, Jean McSween, Mimi Nguyen, Karen O’Conor, Kate
                  O’Dea, Michael Pahr, Rebecca Rose, Regina Santucci, Matthew
                  Saradjian, Ronni Schwartz, and John Townes made significant
                  contributions to all aspects of this report.




(131076)
                  Page 58                                     GAO-12-349 Bullying Prevention
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