|Mar 29, 2012|
Illinois House passes anti-bullying legislation
Bill 5290 passed in the Illinois General Assembly on March 28, 2012, 61 to 49, and moved on to the Senate for review and voting. The bill focuses on improving the state's anti-bullying solutions and was introduced by Democratic Representative Kelly Cassidy with support from Representatives Linda Chapa LaVia and Republican Sandra Pihos. Based on the Safe Schools Act that Rep. Lou Lang introduced previously, the bill was designed to create a template for bullying prevention policy.
Additionally, Bill 5290 will expand the state's legal definition of bullying to include taunting and mocking others based on physical appearance, socioeconomic or academic status, pregnancy, parenting status or homelessness, according to the State Journal-Register.
Representative Cassidy, an openly homosexual politician, stated that the legislation was necessary, as it provides additional clarity and tools for schools to create bullying policies. The bill does not directly address the LGBT community, but includes these groups in its protective measures against bullying.
"Today, we passed important legislation to take the next critical step to ensuring that our kids are safe in school," Cassidy told ChicagoPride.com.
The bill is being supported in the Senate by Democratic Senator Heather Steans.
It is important for school districts to do all they can to instruct students on how to prevent bullying and provide resources to help stop bullying activities. One way to help address these needs is to implement uTip, the 'Bully Buster.' uTip provides an important communications tool that overcomes one of the most common reasons why students do not report incidents where bullying occurs - fear of reprisal. Children can send text messages to school safety officials, administration and teachers from their cellphones with an anonymous report of any bullying that the student may have witnessed or directly experienced.