Western Mass. addresses state anti-bullying laws - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Western Mass. addresses state anti-bullying laws

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Susan Wessels knows a lot about bullying, because she is parent of a child who has been bullied before.

"I feel like it's always under things that aren't routine events, where you're in the line, and there isn't necessarily a teacher right by you ... you're not in the classroom ... it's coming from class-to-class that I feel you're basically a target," Wessels said.

On Wednesday, Wessels joined others to listen to a panel of professors and lawyers discuss the state's current law on anti-bullying, and how it can more effectively address the topic of bullying in schools across the Commonwealth.

"We believe that the legislators and even the courts need to extend the liability to parents for the acts of bullying," said Trevor Bernard, a law and society student at Western New England University who is conducting research with one of the professors on the panel.

Last May marked the two-year anniversary of anti-bullying legislation in schools across the Commonwealth.

The law had been created, in part, to let students and families of students become more aware of bullying.

The law would also punish those who bully and cause others emotional distress by putting them behind bars, fining them, or both.

It also would make parents like Wessels more responsible.

"I would say that, yes, within the parents household, they should have control over their child. But once they get to the school setting, you don't necessarily know what's going on at school," Wessels said.

Phoebe Price and Carl Walker Hoover are two examples of bullying that took place in Western Mass. Both students tragically took their own lives after they were bullied relentlessly in school.

For that reason, people now believe teachers should have more responsibility and control over what happens in schools.

"Teachers definitely have a role in preventing bullying. They need to be more aware about what goes on outside of the classroom, because more times than not, that's not where bullying is going to take place... it's going to take place directly outside," Bernard said.

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