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J Adolesc Health. 2008 Jan;42(1):11-20.

Antibullying legislation: a public health perspective.

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Children's National Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Washington, DC 20010, USA.



To determine the extent to which aspects of public health policy have been incorporated into the antibullying statutes enacted in the United States.


We reviewed all the state laws dealing with school bullying, harassment, and/or intimidation enacted in the United States as of June 2007. These laws were evaluated using an Antibullying Public Health Policy Criteria Index, designed for the purpose of this study. The criteria included presence of a bullying definition, a prohibition of bullying, a statutory recognition of bullying as a public health threat, and a call for prevention programs. As part of that evaluation, laws were examined to ascertain whether they evidenced essential elements of public health concerns and also the extent to which the U.S. school age population was protected by these laws.


As of June 2007, 35 states have enacted antibullying legislation that aims to protect the safety of 77% of U.S. students enrolled in public schools. However, only 16 of those states have enacted statutes that incorporate comprehensive basic public health antibullying principles.


There is an urgent need for implementation of school bullying prevention laws. Such laws should clearly define the problem of bullying in schools and its associated health risks, prohibit bullying, require implementation of prevention programs, provide funding for prevention activities, and confer adequate and appropriate jurisdiction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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