Maryland's Tough Anti-Bullying Law Helps Middle School Student | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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    Maryland's Tough Anti-Bullying Law Helps Middle School Student

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    By Elliott Francis

    The case of Phoebe Prince, the 15-year old girl in South Hadley, Massachusetts, who took her own life after she was repeatedly bullied, has focused attention on the behavior, and how its handled by school administrators.

    Maryland has one of the most aggressive anti-bullying laws in the country. One middle school student used the law to fight back against bullying in her class.

    Erin Sapp is a tall, jaunty 8th grader from Montgomery County. The 14-year old says a girl bullied her in the middle of class without warning.

    "She was saying that I wasn't smart enough for the group and wanted me to leave the classroom saying I was stupid and I shouldn't be around," says Sapp.

    Pauline Burge is Sapp's mom.

    "She came home very upset that day, and it took me a good hour to get her to open up and tell me whats going on," says Burge.

    Her experience is just one of 1,600 school bullying incidents reported in Maryland last year. Many were resolved under the comprehensive state anti-bullying law in effect since 2008. The law requires school officials to report abusive behavior to local police.

    The director of student services for the State's Department of Education, Charles Buckler, says students who are bullied should speak up.

    "They should tell somebody, and or they should request a bullying form, fill it out and give it to an administrator," says Buckler.

    Sapp's mom says that's exactly what she did. Soon school administrators stepped in, and there hasn't been any trouble since.

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