Department of Justice Reissues Guidances to Law Enforcement and Schools on Hate Crimes

New Anti-Bullying Video Directed To Students Also Released for New School Year

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn reiterated Friday the Delaware Department of Justice’s position that “Threats and intimidation against our neighbors based on who they are will not be accepted here in Delaware,” and reissued enforcement guidelines from last November to schools and law enforcement on responses to hate speech. Attorney General Denn also released a new video aimed at returning school students about bullying and mutual respect.

Attorney General Denn’s legal guidance to Delaware law enforcement agencies focuses on criminal statutes that may relate to charges involving “threats and epithets directed at minority groups.” The memo includes discussion of terroristic threatening, disorderly conduct and application of Delaware’s hate crime statute.

The law enforcement memo can be found at https://news.delaware.gov/files/2016/11/Law-Enforcement-Guidelines.pdf.

In the short video directed to students, which will be distributed to schools through the state Department of Education, Attorney General Denn tells students, “Delaware has a law against school bullying, and it prohibits saying or writing things that a reasonable person would know could create a hostile, or threatening or humiliating educational environment for another student. And it’s not just limited to the school building. Things that you post on social media that you know are likely to be seen by other students in your school can also be considered bullying in Delaware if they have an impact in school.”

The video is available at http://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/anti-bullying-efforts/ and the Attorney General urges anyone to share it in ways that will help it be seen by Delaware school students.

Attorney General Denn will also be reissuing guidance to schools that he first sent in November 2016, during an uptick in hate speech incidents around the country. The letter echoes the video in reminding that “Delaware public schools have the authority to prevent and punish hateful speech directed at students if that speech is potentially disruptive of school activities, even if that speech originates off campus” and that “every school district and charter school in Delaware is required to have a policy that prohibits school bullying.”

The previous guidance issued to schools late last year can be found at https://news.delaware.gov/files/2016/11/School-Guidelines.pdf.

“It is critical that our children understand the importance of treating each other with respect and kindness, and that our school officials and law enforcement agencies are aware of all the tools at their disposal to deal with hate speech when it occurs. We hope that the materials we are sending to schools and law enforcement agencies advance these goals,” Attorney General Denn said Friday.

Denn said that any Delawareans who believed that they were victims of threats or intimidation based on their personal characteristics and were not receiving an appropriate response from law enforcement or school authorities could contact the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust at 302-577-5400.


Governor Carney Signs Legislation Improving Training for Educators to Prevent Child Abuse

Senate Bill 102, supported by Beau Biden Foundation, develops training program for educators, school staff

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday signed into law Senate Bill 102, legislation supported by the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children that develops a coordinated training program for educators to detect and prevent child abuse.  The bill consolidates Delaware law to improve child sexual abuse training and detection, suicide prevention,Governor Carney Signs Legislation Improving Training for Educators to Prevent Child Abuse anti-bullying programs, criminal youth gang detection, and teen dating violence and sexual assault prevention.

Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry sponsored the bill, which passed the General Assembly with unanimous, bipartisan support. It applies to all public schools, including charter schools, and vocational school districts.

“Beau Biden had a deep and unyielding commitment to protecting children from abuse, and I am honored to continue supporting his mission by signing this legislation into law,” said Governor Carney. “I cannot think of any job more important than protecting children. Educators who work every day with Delaware students are in a unique position to help detect warning signs, and act to prevent abuse. This law will help them do that by developing a program to coordinate training, and allowing schools the flexibility to tailor training to the needs of their students. Thank you to Senator Henry, and everyone who made this law a reality, including everyone at the Beau Biden Foundation.”

“Our schools are places of learning, but they also provide vital services to our kids,” said Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East. “It’s on all of us to recognize and intervene in bullying, youth violence, child abuse, and teen depression, but it’s clear that our schools are a critical part of that fight. Senate Bill 102 builds on the great work of groups like the Beau Biden Foundation by ensuring that public and charter school employees across Delaware are capable of recognizing signs of non-academic problems in a student’s life and intervening appropriately. At a minimum, these trainings will help improve our kids’ quality of life—and they could even save a life. I’m proud to have sponsored this legislation and I thank my colleagues and Governor Carney for their support.”

The Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, which advocated for the legislation, continues Beau’s lifelong commitment to protecting children from the threat of abuse and neglect. In 2011, Beau and his partners at the Delaware Department of Justice, Prevent Child Abuse Delaware and the Delaware YMCA pledged to train 5% of Delaware’s population in the only evidence informed child sexual abuse prevention program in the country – Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children. The Beau Biden Foundation continues to deliver the program, and to date, over 27,000 Delawareans have taken the training.

“We’re thrilled to see Senate Bill 102 signed in to law,” said Patty Dailey Lewis, Executive Director of the Beau Biden Foundation. “Delaware leads the nation in child sexual abuse prevention training. In the next few years, we will reach our goal of educating 5% of our population on ways to recognize the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse, react responsibly when a child divulges they’ve been abused, and work to minimize opportunities for predators to harm children. Teachers and school staff are on the front lines of child protection – we stand ready to lead the way and assist them in fulfilling their training requirement.”

“By streamlining the non-academic trainings required by school district and charter school staff, Delaware is providing our state educators with additional flexibility and support,” said Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “Schools are now able to reduce the burden of having multiple, different trainings and can also mix and match their training to meet specific professional development needs. This is a win for all educators in the state.”

“As we strive to bring greater awareness to issues such as child abuse and neglect, bullying, teen dating violence, youth gangs and suicide prevention, we recognize that our community partners are on the frontline, helping us protect Delaware’s children every day,” said Josette Manning, Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.  “Delaware has thousands of enthusiastic and dedicated educators, school nurses, and counselors, all of whom have frequent contact with our children and play key roles in keeping them safe.  Senate Bill 102 will provide one more tool to help them be the voice for our children. Working together, we can provide a brighter future for Delaware’s children.”

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Delaware Department of Justice Issues Guidelines to Law Enforcement and Schools Regarding Handling of Threats and Intimidation

In light of incidents reported around the country involving threats and intimidation against individuals based on their national origin, religion, and other personal characteristics, Attorney General Matt Denn sent guidelines to state law enforcement and education officials earlier this week describing proper use of the state’s statutes and regulations to address such incidents in Delaware. The guidelines specifically address the scope of Delaware’s terroristic threatening, disorderly conduct, and hate crime statutes, and school bullying laws and regulations (including cyberbullying).

The guidelines were issued by the Delaware Department of Justice following national media reports of an uptick in bias-related activity in the past week, and a formal FBI report issued Monday that documented a significant increase in hate crimes nationally during the 2015 calendar year, in particular crimes directed against Muslims and transgender persons.

“Threats and intimidation against our neighbors based on who they are will not be accepted here in Delaware,” Attorney General Denn said. “There are First Amendment issues that arise when law enforcement or school officials apply laws relating to speech, so these guidelines explain to law enforcement and school officials how they can apply the law consistently with those First Amendment considerations.”

Denn said that any Delawareans who believed that they were victims of threats or intimidation based on their personal characteristics and were not receiving an appropriate response from law enforcement or school authorities could contact the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust at 302-577-5400.

Read the Law Enforcement Guidelines

Read the School Guidelines


Attorney General Denn Updates School Compliance with Delaware Bullying Laws

WILMINGTON, DE – Attorney General Matt Denn released the second annual report on compliance by Delaware schools with state anti-bullying laws today. The report analyzes the implementation by the Department of Education, school districts, and charter schools of significant changes that were made to the state’s bullying statutes in 2012.

The report finds that the state’s efforts to require schools to communicate with parents about bullying incidents are showing success, but that the state’s evidence-gathering practices regarding bullying are in need of reform and that school districts and charter schools are not consistently complying with their obligation to direct students and parents to help when bullying occurs.

The report notes that there were 11% fewer substantiated bullying incidents reported in the 2013-2014 school year than in the 2012-2013 school year, but questions about the reliability of the state’s bullying statistics make it difficult to gauge whether a real reduction in bullying of that amount occurred.

“It is encouraging to see the progress our schools have made in keeping parents informed about bullying, because that was one of the primary goals of the 2012 legislation,” said Attorney General Denn who co-authored the 2012 legislation as Lieutenant Governor. “But our schools clearly have more work to do in letting parents know what recourse they have when bullying does occur, and the state needs to do a better job accurately tracking bullying incidents so we can accurately monitor our overall progress.”

In addition to conclusions highlighted in the report, the document proposes recommendations for moving forward, including:

(a) That the state revise its system for tabulating reported and substantiated bullying incidents so that data the legislature intended to gather can be accurately tabulated.
(b) That the state more uniformly educate and monitor the reporting practices of districts and charter schools so that incidents and data are properly reported on a consistent basis.
(c) That school districts and charter schools ensure that contact information for the state’s bullying ombudsman is prominently displayed on their web sites, and that the Delaware Code be revised to provide specific enforcement provisions for this statutory requirement.
(d) That the Department of Education continue to emphasize reporting of bullying incidents to parents of both victims and perpetrators.

“Delaware students, parents, and educators share genuine concerns about bullying–in-school bullying, bullying outside of school, and especially, the rise in bullying on social media,” said Frederika Jenner, President of the Delaware State Education Association. “We appreciate the attention that has been brought to these concerns, as well as efforts from the AG’s office to both curtail and monitor bullying. All progress is welcomed and celebrated.”

“We are pleased with the progress the state has made in addressing the issue of bullying in our schools,” said Dr. Terri Hodges, President of the Delaware PTA. “The findings and recommendations are consistent with the changes we have seen in the schools, as well as the reports we receive from parents in regards to how incidents of bullying are handled.”

You can view the entire report here: http://www.attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/documents/2015_anti-bullying-laws.pdf


Biden’s office brings hate crime, other more serious charges against three juveniles for assault of a Newark-area man

Wilmington – Prosecutors today filed additional, more serious charges against three juveniles recently charged with the assault of a 26 year-old Newark-area man who suffers from a neurodevelopmental disorder. The three juveniles were initially arrested by New Castle County Police earlier this month and charged with Offensive Touching, Assault of a Vulnerable Adult, and Conspiracy 3rd Degree after videos appeared on social media websites documenting their alleged assault of the victim.

“It is our responsibility to protect people who cannot protect themselves,” Attorney General Beau Biden said. “Targeting and assaulting a vulnerable victim is especially egregious and those who do so face significant consequences under the law. Every parent needs to talk with their children about this incident and how to prevent these types of crimes.”

After further investigation by the New Castle County Police in consultation with the Delaware Department of Justice, and review of the evidence by prosecutors, Biden’s office today brought additional charges against each of the three juveniles through a petition filed in Family Court. Those additional charges are:
• Hate Crime (felony)
• Crime Against a Vulnerable Adult (felony)
• Conspiracy 2nd Degree (felony)
• Abuse of an Impaired Adult (felony)
• Conspiracy 3rd Degree (misdemeanor)
• Harassment (misdemeanor)
• Assault 3rd Degree (misdemeanor)

One of the 14 year-old juveniles has also been charged with two additional counts of Hate Crime (one felony and one misdemeanor) and Crime against a Vulnerable Adult (one felony and one misdemeanor), and one additional (misdemeanor) count each of Harassment, Offensive Touching, and Abuse of an Impaired Adult.

The three juveniles will be arraigned in Family Court on the new charges, at which time bail will be reviewed. The investigation into these incidents is continuing. Because the cases remain in Delaware Family Court the State continues to withhold the names of the juveniles.

The Delaware Department of Justice reminds the public that a charge is merely an allegation and that the State bears the burden of proving each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

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