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Playground to the Penitentiary:        Criminalizing School Bullying and the Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Law

New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement Fall 2010 Symposium

On October 1, 2010, the New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement hosted its annual symposium. This year's symposium focused on school bullying, cyberbullying, and the new Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Statute, which was signed into law in May.

For more information or questions regarding the symposium contact managing business editor John Keeney.

Panel 1: An Analysis of School Bullying and Cyberbullying

The panelists in the first session discussed a wide range of issues surrounding school bullying and cyberbullying. In particular, there was analysis of the use of social networking sites and mobile technology in perpetuating school bullying, comparative analysis of various state anti-bullying laws, discussion of enforcement issues including the constitutionality of particular provisions, and the utility of criminalization over other forms of bullying prevention.


Monica Teixeira de Sousa - Moderator
Assistant Professor of Law, New England Law | Boston

James Alan Fox

Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy, Northeastern University

Douglas Abrams

Associate Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law

Wendy Murphy

Adjunct Professor, New England Law | Boston; Founder and Director of the Victim Advocacy & Research Group

Daniel Weddle

Director of Academic Support and Clinical Professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Susan Duncan

Associate Professor of Law, University of Louisville

Sarah Salter
Professor of Law, New England Law | Boston

Kathleen Conn
Assistant Professor, Neumann University

Panel 2: Implications of the Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Statute

The second panel consisted of local stakeholders who specifically addressed the new Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Statute, which began to affect schools on the first day of classes. The panelists discussed the impact of the bill on schools, students, and administrators as well as how the bill was enacted and what challenges will arise during implementation. The new law requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to promulgate accompanying regulations, which were up for vote by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on September 21, 2010, shortly before the symposium. The regulations were also a topic of discussion amongst the panelists.

Tigran Eldred - Moderator
Associate Professor, New England Law | Boston

John Bynoe 
Associate Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Education       

Isabel Raskin

Practitioner in Residence, Juvenile Justice Center, Suffolk University

Glenn Koocher

Executive Director, Massachusetts Association of School Committees

Robert Trestan
Eastern States Civil Rights Counsel, Anti-Defamation League

For full panelist bios please (click here).

Additional Information on Cyberbullying/School Bullying


An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools (click here)

Proposed Regulations on Notification of Bullying or Retaliation (click here) (Available in a Word copy at the bottom of the page)

Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (click here)

Recent Bullying News in Massachusetts (click here)

Professor James Alan Fox on the Failure of Anti-Bullying Programs (click here)


Cyberbullying Research Center (click here)

Department of Health and Human Services Anti-bullying Campaign (click here) (Child oriented)

Recent National News Stories Involving Bullying (click here)

Article by Panelist Douglas Abrams (click here)

Recent ABC News Story Addressing Christian Group Criticism of Bullying Laws (click here)

Angered Father Boards Bus to Confront Bullies (click here)