NEW YORK - The U.S. Department of Education is sending awarning to schools, colleges and universities nationwide inresponse to several high-profile cases of bullying.

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

The department says it is responding to what it senses as agrowing problem.

Among the cases are the suicides of an 18-year-old RutgersUniversity student and a 15-year-old Massachusetts girl.

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