Pan­elists Joshua Sheffer, Diane Rosen­feld, Angela Red­dock, Mitch Crane and North­eastern law pro­fessor David Phillips, who acted as mod­er­ator, dis­cussed hazing at a panel Friday. Photo by David Leifer.

When it comes to exam­ining bul­lying among school-​​age chil­dren, David E. Sul­livan, the dis­trict attorney for Mass­a­chu­setts’ North­western Dis­trict, said it’s impos­sible to focus just on what hap­pens in the class­room and on the playground.

We have to look at cyber-​​bullying, and we have to look at what hap­pens on the school bus. The real threshold is if it is affecting a child’s ability to get an edu­ca­tion,” said Sul­livan, a keynote speaker at a sym­po­sium hosted by the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Law Journal on Friday. Sullivan’s office inves­ti­gated and pros­e­cuted the case involving Phoebe Prince, the teenager who took her own life in 2010 after months of bul­lying from class­mates. The case drew global attention.

The day­long sym­po­sium — enti­tled “Pushed Too Far: The Evolving Legal Impli­ca­tions of School Bul­lying” — is the same topic that will be cov­ered in all arti­cles in this year’s edi­tion of the law journal.

We’re very dif­ferent from the more tra­di­tional legal jour­nals, which take arti­cles on any topic,” said law stu­dent David Swanson, who with fellow stu­dent Jonathan Cohen edited the sym­po­sium. “Every year we choose a single topic for our issue, and we aim for it to be some­thing impor­tant in the public eye.”

The event, held in Dockser Hall, drew a mix of law stu­dents, lawyers, pro­fes­sors and school admin­is­tra­tors and focused on issues including antibul­lying leg­is­la­tion, crim­inal pros­e­cu­tion of bul­lies and cyber­bul­lying and the First Amendment.

Atten­dees also addressed the topic of hazing on col­lege campuses.

These aren’t crimes where people set out to hurt some­body,” said Mitch Crane, a lawyer and former judge who gives sem­i­nars on hazing, date rape and sexual assault. “In fact, the oppo­site is usu­ally true — these are cases where people want to trust and belong to a group and some­thing goes ter­ribly wrong.”

Though many national stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions have strict poli­cies against hazing, indi­vidual chap­ters often over­look or bla­tantly ignore those rules, said Angela Red­dock, a Los Angeles lawyer who has suc­cess­fully lit­i­gated sev­eral promi­nent hazing lawsuits.

At the crux of all of this is the inter­sec­tion of poli­cies and prac­tices,” Red­dock said. “Even with these poli­cies, there is often an under­ground process you have to go through so you aren’t called a ‘paper member’ [of an orga­ni­za­tion on a col­lege campus] but are a real member.”

Diane Rosen­feld, who teaches courses on gender vio­lence at Har­vard Law School, said indi­vid­uals must step up and resist com­pla­cency in order to pre­vent bul­lying, hazing and other harassment.

Each of us has a very impor­tant role in inter­vening,” Rosen­feld said. “This cul­ture is not pos­sible unless you have people thinking they cannot do any­thing to stop it, and you have the power to make real change.”