|May 22, 2012|
More states adopt anti-bullying legislation
Illinois, Maine, New Jersey and New York are among the forerunners to follow California in recently introducing new anti-bullying solutions into law. The new legislative movements focus on a variety of aspects of the crime, from cyber-bullying to bullying in sports.
In New York, Governor Cuomo is reported to have held talks recently focusing on ways to stop cyberbullying, according to the NY Daily News. While no legislation has been introduced yet, the governor has reportedly placed addressing bullying among his top priorities for the coming year. State Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell told the news source that the conversations focus in part on a bill that he sponsored. The legislation would add provisions against cyber-bullying to the 2010 Dignity For All Students Act requiring schools to report harassment to the state and develop training programs to address the issue. Lawmakers are currently resolving differences between O'Donnell's bill and another that was recently introduced by Senator Stephen Saland.
Another anti-bullying bill was signed into law by Maine Governor Paul LePage recently, according to WGME, along with several other bills intended to improve school safety. The bill focuses on how to prevent bullying by expanding the legal definition of bullying in the state, as well as outlining discipline strategies and teacher training regarding the subject. According to the Kennebec Journal, the bill is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Council of Churches and the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. Chris Galgay, the president of the Maine Education Association, told the news source that the bill is designed to improve the learning environment by removing fear from schools and ensuring that children feel safe in the classroom.
However, not all anti-bullying legislation is met with open arms. In Illinois, conservative religious groups are opposing a new bill that focuses on the steps state schools must include in bullying programs. According to The Christian Science Monitor, the opposed groups state that the bill would "use public education to promote unproven, non-factual beliefs about the nature and morality of homosexuality and 'transgenderism'" - though the bill contains no language related to sexual orientation or require schools to teach specific lessons regarding bullying.
Any school that wants to help reducing bullying and make students feel safer can also invest in uTip, the Bully Buster - a service that allows children to anonymously report bullying, either in the school or online. Using their own cell phones, students can immediately report a bully or related incidents to school officials, giving school administration officials more time to investigate.