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Maine has taken important steps to assess and improve school climate and safety, particularly in the areas of bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment. In 2005, Maine law was amended to require all Maine schools to implement policies and procedures to address bullying, harassment, bias-based harassment, and sexual harassment.
In May 2012, the Legislature passed a new law: An Act to Prohibit Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools (PL 659). This law gives more specific guidance in best practices on how to address peer mistreatment for all schools. The Maine Department of Education also created a Model Policy for Bullying and Cyberbullying for all schools to use to help them revise and edit their current policies.
Maine's Best Practices in Bullying and Harassment Prevention offers suggestions for a comprehensive approach to bullying and cyberbullying:
- Conducting an initial assessment of policy (checklist), procedures, and student and staff perceptions of school climate, culture, and behavior.
- Establishing and supporting an internal school leadership team, including the principal and high-level administrators as key advocates and participants.
- Providing opportunities for involvement of parents and community.
- Sharing and interpreting assessment findings.
- Developing a comprehensive school plan and choosing training and technical assistance approaches based on issues identified through the assessment. The plan must include meaningful youth involvement.
- Establishing and implementing procedures based on policies that assure safe, fair, responsive schools.
- Providing ongoing training for all staff and the necessary technical assistance to support and institutionalize a sustained school-wide effort.
- Conducting ongoing evaluation to assess progress, achievements, and to provide feedback for adjustments to the school plan.
- Model Policy for Bullying & Cyberbullying (Released Jan. 3, 2013)