A little more than one in every five students is bullied according to a study published in 2019 by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics

To say these statistics are concerning is an understatement. For all parents, but particularly for parents of children with special needs bullying is a significant concern. As PACER'S National Bullying Prevention Center notes, research has shown that students with disabilities are "two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers. 

Student Reports of Bullying: National Center for Education Statistics 

Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Laws

One small advantage for parents is that Massachusetts has fairly strong anti-bullying laws compared to many states.  

Bullying Under Massachusetts Law

Bullying as defined in the law (which includes cyber bullying) encompasses behavior that 

Requirements for Schools 

While the law does not criminalize bullying behavior it requires that all schools take steps to address. Specifically schools must

You can find the Bullying Prevention and Intervention plan for Reading Schools here.

Bullying as it Relates to IEPs

Specific to special education, the law also requires that the IEP team assess whether a student's disability impacts social skills or may otherwise make the student vulnerable to bullying. If the team determines that it does then the team is required to address the skills and proficiencies that will be needed to avoid and respond to bullying within the IEP.

For More Information

Town of Reading

Reading Schools Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan  - Reading Public Schools 

Official Resources

Bullying: What Parents Need to Know - Federation for Children with Special Needs

Massachusetts Law About Bullying and Cyberbullying - Mass.gov

Office for Civil Rights - U.S. Department of Education

Bullying Prevention and Intervention - Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

603 CMR 49.00 Notification of Bullying or Retaliation Regulations  - Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Technical Assistance Advisory SPED 2011-2 - Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Bullying Prevention and Intervention - Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

General Resources

Massachusetts Anti-bullying Law (Presentation) - Massachusetts Advocates for Children

PACERs National Bullying Prevention Center - PACER

Bullying and Harassment Prevention Orders  -  Children's Law Center of Massachusetts

Cyberbullying and Social Networks - Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center 

Bullying & Harassment - Vermont Family Network

Bullying and the Child with Special Needs - AbilityPath.org

Bullying Prevention Guide and Resources - Early Childhood Education Degrees

Please note that we at Reading SEPAC cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information presented on any third-party website listed on this site, nor do we endorse any informational content appearing on third-party websites of any of the providers listed. We endeavor only to provide a listing of potentially helpful information available. Its up to you, as a consumer, to do your own diligence and research. Also note that any summarization of the laws, rules, regulations, processes or similar related to special education, or advice proffered is based exclusively on the experience of Reading SEPAC members as parents of children with special needs. Its in no way an official reflection of the position of the FCSA or the Reading School system and we make no claims of expertise in communication, law, education or any other areas. While we have endeavored to provide simple-to-read language for parents, we are not experts, do not claim to be, and make no warranties or claims of accuracy related to the informational content of this website.