Help stop the bullying…before it’s too late
The United States Department of Health and Human Services reported that in 2011, 20% of high school students have been bullied. Bullying has been defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves real or perceived power imbalance [and] the behavior is repeated…over time”. Bullying includes three types: verbal bullying, social bullying, and physical bullying. To date, Texas law does not include cyber bullying in their definition of bullying. While all kids are at risk for being bullied, kids that belong to minority groups (LGBT, disabled) may have increased risk.
The Effects of Bullying
Statistics show that 71% of school shooters report they were bullied (United States Secret Security and Department of Education Report, 2002). When bullying occurs there can be serious harmful effects on the victims and often times the perpetrator also, these effects can sometimes lead to death. Victims and perpetrators often experience depression or anxiety, which leads to physical illness, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, or mental issues, such as low self-esteem. Bullying has also been shown to contribute negatively to the rate of truancy. Last, but certainly not least, the ultimate effect that bullying can have on a person is suicide and homicide (Bullying and Suicide, 2009). Do not let death be the solution.
From 1999 to 2010, there were more than 120 bills passed by states to address anti bullying, and 41 states provided a model policy to be adopted by their school districts. On May 9, 2011 Texas passed a law requiring school districts to adopt a bullying policy, but did not provide a model policy to the districts to ensure uniform bullying policies across the state (United States Department of Education, 2011).
Proposed Texas Legislation
Bullying has become the new hot button issue and many new laws have been passed to prevent it, but are the policies in Texas adequate for both rural and urban areas? The answer sadly is no. The Texas laws do not have required education programs on bullying, hotlines in place to report bullying, or the specification of any type of bullied community. How can we improve these laws?
New Jersey has recently implemented some new anti-bullying policies that will affect bullying in both rural and urban areas. In 2011, widespread headlines labeled their policies “the toughest in the nation.” One of these policies involved creating a hotline specifically to report incidents of bullying. The New Jersey Anti-bullying legislation also implemented tools such as online tutorials and other resources for education on bullying. In fact, these education programs have required the New Jersey schools to educate students on differences such as those found in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community and how to interact in a positive manner to reduce the incidences of bullying on this population. New Jersey Law has a checklist for schools to use that actually require schools to have policies on bullying towards different ethnicities, sexual orientation and expression, and those that are disabled. The laws in New Jersey are very specific on how these policies work and what to do about bullying situations. New Jersey also has resources to fund the programs that are needed to be initiated by the school districts in the state.
This petition is a call for support for Texas to implement some, if not all, of the policies that New Jersey has found so effective. It’s time for school districts to get the support they need to implement assertive, effective, statewide anti-bullying policies so not one more child has to endure physical or emotional trauma at the hands of a bully. After all, there is nothing wrong with modeling policies that are the “toughest in the nation” when it comes to stopping bullying.
Bullying Statistics (2009). Bullying and Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html
NPR (2011). Antibullying Laws Get Tough with Schools. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2011/09/17/140557573/anti-bullying-laws-get-tough-with-schools
United States Department of Education (2011). Analysis of state bullying laws and policies. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/bullying/state-bullying-laws/state- bullying-laws.pdf
United States Department of Health and Human Services (2011). Youth risk behavior surveillance. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 61(4). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_ss/ss_cvol.html
United States Secret Service and United States Department of Education (2002). The finding and final report of the safe school initiative: Implications for the prevention of school attacks in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_final_report.pdf