Warning to schools about bullying

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The U.S. Department of Education is sending a warning to schools, colleges and universities nationwide in response to several high-profile cases of bullying.

In letters going out Tuesday, the agency tells schools they could be violating federal anti-discrimination laws if they tolerate or fail to adequately address ethnic, sexual or gender-based harassment.

The department says it is responding to what it senses as a growing problem. Among the cases are the suicides of an 18-year-old Rutgers University student and a 15-year-old Massachusetts girl.

Harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex or disability that creates a hostile environment and is encouraged, tolerated or not adequately addressed can be in violation of civil rights statutes.

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