Bill Would Require School Districts Across the Country to Develop and Implement Locally Driven Anti-Bullying Policies
Washington, D.C. – A Department of Education study found that one in five children between the ages of 12 and 18 are affected by bullying. In an effort to address this ongoing issue, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, joined by more than 30 colleagues, this week introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. This legislation would help ensure that no child is afraid to go to school for fear of unchecked bullying and harassment.
“Every child deserves to feel safe at school, but with the growing prevalence of bullying both in our schools and online, this is often not the case,” Bennet said. “This legislation will ensure that schools prioritize the safety and health of our kids through prevention and effectively responding to any reported incidents.”
The Safe Schools Improvement Act would:
- Require schools and districts receiving federal funding to specifically prohibit bullying and harassment, including conduct based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.
- Ensure that schools and school districts focus on effective prevention programs in order to better prevent and respond to incidents of bullying and harassment both in school and online.
- Require that states report data on incidents of bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.
- A 2013 U.S. Department of Education study found that bullying and harassment affects more than one in every five American students between the ages of 12 and 18.
- Research shows that bullying and harassment have adverse long-term consequences, including decreased concentration at school, increased school absenteeism, damage to the victim’s self-esteem, and increased social anxiety.
- While we do have federal laws to provide support to promote school safety, there is nothing currently in place to comprehensively and expressly address issues of bullying or harassment.
- Awareness of this problem is growing. According to a 2011 poll, 85 percent of Americans strongly support or somewhat support a federal law to require schools to enforce specific rules to prevent bullying. As of 2018, 16 states and the District of Columbia have enacted enumerated anti-bulling laws.
Numerous education, health, law enforcement and youth development organizations support SSIA, including the American Federation of Teachers, American School Health Association, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association of School Psychologists, National Down Syndrome Society, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, American Association of University Women, Asian American Justice Center, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Human Rights Campaign and the Trevor Project.