The Dignity for All Students Act: Implications for school bullying and harassment policies and practice
Cosgrove, Heather E.
MetadataShow full item record
Bullying and harassment are widely regarded as pervasive issues, specifically for school-aged children across the United States. These experiences have been shown to impact academic success, attendance, emotional wellbeing, self-esteem, and school climate. The Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), which New York State public schools were mandated to implement on July 1, 2012, is intended to eliminate harassment, bullying, and discrimination in schools. A cross-sectional study was conducted via online self-report surveys to assess school practitioners' perceptions of school climate, current practices in preventing and intervening with bullying and harassment, and subjective effectiveness of the practices both prior to and post-DASA implementation. The first wave of data were collected prior to the July 1, 2012 execution of DASA, and yielded 1,413 respondents from school staff and educators across New York State. The second wave was launched after Dignity Act implementation and was represented by 487 participants. The majority of participants for both waves were female, Caucasian, teachers, and had worked in education for over 10 years. There was a negative correlational relation between compliance with DASA mandates and bullying and harassment severity. A positive relation was found between DASA compliance and school climate and prevention/intervention efforts. The majority of respondents in Wave Two endorsed having a DASA Coordinator, training, reporting an incident of bullying, and having policies that fully defined bullying and harassment. DASA compliance significantly predicted positive school climate, decreased bullying and harassment, increased prevention/intervention strategies, and a lower perceived need for improvement in schools across waves. However, scores did not significantly differ between waves. Finally, a significant relation was found between school climate and DASA compliance above and beyond bullying and harassment severity across waves, although these scores also did not differ significantly from Wave One to Wave Two. Limitations of the study, implications for practice, and future research directions are discussed.