Scrupuli

blunt essays with sharp points

Bullying bill passes three years after student’s suicide [link]

by Scrvpvlvs
May 5, 2008 9:20 AM–The link is to Naples (Florida) Daily News coverage of an anti-bullying measure which I read with interest.

After the article there are various comments by readers.

I became curious and read the bill at flsenate.gov. It became obvious that some of the comments were made by people who hadn’t taken the time to do that.

The bill is not a substitute for existing laws against assault, theft, harassment, and other crimes.

The bill requires schools to act on reports of bullying and harassment instead of turning a blind eye. It tells schools what their minimum responsibility is.

As Wordofmouth (one of the commenters) points out, in schools, assault and harassment are often not prosecuted under existing law. Teachers and administrators already have a tough job, and they tend to under-investigate reports of behavior that in the real world would involve the police. “Kids will be kids,” I’ve heard, and “he said, she said.”

My daughter is currently a target for a group of bullies, who have learned that a good cover is to immediately report her as having done the very thing they did to her, and corroborate one another’s stories. This is a classic “he said, she said” situation.

I sympathize with my daughter but also with the teacher. The teacher’s priority is to restore order and get back to teaching.

But there is a cumulative effect of chronic teasing, threats, thefts, lies, humiliations, and destruction of property. Merely restoring order after a complaint is not an adequate remedy.

As her mom has said, in the real world, if someone makes a report, the police appear and make an investigation. We are doing both the victims and the perpetrators a disservice if the rule of law is suspended in schools.

Accordingly, the bill requires the schools to:

  • tell students about bullying, how to report bullying, and what the consequences are for bullying and for false reports
  • train employees and volunteers to identify, prevent, and respond to reports of bullying
  • notify parents of each report (including where to pursue criminal charges against the perpetrators)
  • regularly report to a victim’s parents the actions taken to protect the victim
  • refer victims and perpetrators for counseling
  • report each incident to the state for statistical aggregation

My daughter’s mom and I would like to see a similar bill made law in Texas.

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