Attleboro MA moves to stop bullying

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Tue, 09/03/2013 - 00:29

In a significant victory against bullying in Massachusetts, Attleboro is moving to prohibit bullying. When approved by the Council, the city ordinances would prohibit bullying or cyber-bullying.

We congratulate Attleboro for their leadership in recognizing the prevalence of bullying affecting vulnerable groups, including elderly and disabled persons living in subsidized housing.

The Attleboro Municipal Council voted unanimously on August 20, 2013, to have the Personnel and Human Services Committee review the proposal of Mr. Conti. The language of the proposed ordinance is clear: The City of Attleboro is committed to providing a safe, positive and productive environment where residents can achieve the highest standards. No one shall be subjected to harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyber-bullying within the community.

We commend Attleboro for their efforts to stop bullying. Many people must have worked behind the scenes to bring about this proposal; courageous citizens had spoken out against bullying, and the Attleboro Council on Human Rights had sought to protect targets of bullying. A key breakthrough was the front page story by Rick Foster. Published on 13 May, 2013 in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle, the story must have shocked many: "Bullying at any age: Experts say aggression by seniors against other seniors is a growing problem—and it's being felt in Attleboro." Reporter spotlights bullying in Attleboro, MA. The proposed ordinance would protect residents of privately owned, HUD-subsidized housing, where bullying has been alleged, as well as residents of the Attleboro Housing Authority, where bullying has also been reported.

Reports and complaints about bullying would be addressed to either the Attleboro Council on Human Rights (ACHR) or the police department. Either of these bodies could investigate the allegations, and interview an alleged aggressor, targets, and witnesses. The ACHR would evaluate the danger and recommend a safety plan. Oversight would be provided by reports from the Police Chief to the Mayor, Chair of the Personnel and Human Services Committee, and the Attleboro Council on Human Rights. The Chief of Police would create and monitor a written policy for bullying prevention and intervention. The plan envisions a range of interventions and protections to provide appropriate solutions for all parties.