More than the Victims: A Population-Based, Public Health Approach to Bullying of LGBT Youth
Although young people have always been bullied, recent high-profile cases involving LGBT kids have drawn the problem into sharp relief and raised anew the issue of how best to address and prevent these sometimes tragic results.
This brief article explores two of the primary tools that have been used to combat bullying: litigation and statutory changes. Litigation has been useful in some cases, and can also act as a deterrent to other school districts where bullying is not being addressed in a responsible way by officials. But it is not the best vehicle for systematically addressing the deeper causes of bullying.
Recent statutes have begun to develop a more promising model: one that considers all affected populations within schools. For example, Massachusetts and New Jersey have lately enacted laws that require establishing plans to combat bullying with a combination of initiatives: helping the victims; seeing the perpetrators as both deserving of punishment and in need of counseling; training all members of the staff; integrating anti-bullying messages into the curriculum; and involving family members of both victims and perpetrators. These laws also require creating and evaluating the plans based on the best evidence available. This fresh approach is consistent with sound public health policy, as it takes into account the complexity of the problem and looks at all affected populations in designing interventions.
John G. Culhane. "More than the Victims: A Population-Based, Public Health Approach to Bullying of LGBT Youth" Rutgers Law Record 38 (2011).