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Federal Bullying Legislation

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We are students at DA Hulcy STEAM Middle School in Dallas, Texas who are members of Self-Defense and Legal Rights Club. Everyday, we witness students being bullied at school and hear about kids in the news who have harmed themselves or others because of bullying. After researching laws, we have seen that kids don't have the same protection in every state from bullies. After learning about the First Amendment, we now know that we can use our right to petition to make a change. We want the United States Senate and House of Representatives to draft and create a law that protects kids in every state proactively, the same way, against bullies so that students are no longer getting hurt or have to hurt themselves for bullies to be punished. 

Reasons Why Laws Should Be Changed: 

Bullying laws are currently ineffective because they are different in every state and they are reactive as opposed to proactive. They address symptoms of bullying and not the causes. While 49 states currently have bullying laws (every state besides Montana), victims and bullies are both suffering, and bullies are taking it out on these victims because they don't know how to cope. Many bullying laws have schools develop their own programs to deal with bullying. These schools don't place the same importance on social-emotional learning, as they do math and reading. As a result, students aren't able to learn how to cope appropriately with their emotions in negative situations with their schoolmates and classmates. This leads to depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts amongst victims. The bullies themselves are acting negatively and bullying victims because they also are feeling depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and aren't learning how to handle those feelings. School programs simply punish bullies by having victims fill out reports, and having bullies deal with law enforcement if the bullying is bad enough. However, how bullying is handled is different in each state, which means all kids don't have the same protection. Only 4 out of 100 adults interfere with bullying, because many adults aren't trained properly in social-emotional learning and how to tell if bullying is happening. Some of the laws, don't even make adults learn how to deal with bullying in different states. This means that laws need to change to make sure laws across the United States require schools to implement social-emotional learning to deal with bullying, train adults how to deal with bullying, and seek to stop bullying before it starts. These laws need to be the same across the United States and be proactive so that kids are protected before they are targeted by bullying. 

How Bullying Laws Should Be Changed:

The United States Senate and House of Representatives needs to make one specific law about bullying that impacts youth nationwide. The law should include the following:

1. Schools should have to teach social-emotional learning to all students to prevent bullying.

2. Schools should have to train all school staff how to seek out and deal with bullying before it starts. 

3. Schools should require victims of bullying and bullies to have sessions with the school counselor to stop the bullying. 

4. If Bullying continues after counseling, laws should require that bullies go to a Juvenile Detention Center for one week.

5. If Bullying continues after counseling, bullies should also have to do community service for one year. 

6. If the bully continues to attack victims after counseling, juvenile detention, and community service, they should have a longer sentence in the Juvenile Detention Center and receive counseling during their sentence. 

7. If bullying continues after these steps are taken, and a victim attempts or commits suicide, the bully should automatically be charged with involuntary manslaughter and serve their sentence. 

The law should include all steps and be put in place in every state so that all students are defended the same way against bullying. 

Children Who Weren't Saved By Current Laws:

Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after years of severe bullying with no consequences. Amanda made a mistake on social media that followed her for the rest of her short life. When she was in 7th grade, she would converse with boys on webcams who could call her beautiful, stunning, perfect, and gorgeous. She started talking to a guy on Facebook who complimented her and flattered so much that he eventually convinced her to flash her breasts. Sadly, when Amanda made that mistake, the man who asked her to do it recorded a video. Problems started a year later when the same man took pictures of her breasts from the video and made them go viral. Her story started like many cyber bullying cases. Hate pages were created where people posted nasty comments, which led to her getting bullied at school. She moved and changed schools several times, but the harassment and teasing followed her wherever she went. She was bullied to the point where she could not take it anymore. She posted a YouTube video about her extensive bullying on September 7, 2012, and just a month after she posted it on October 10, 2012, she committed suicide. The authorities didn't take charge of the situation and pursue Amanda's bullies until it was too late to save her - because she had already taken her own life. 

On April 3, 2015, 12-year-old Alyssa Morgan was found dead hanging in her house in Des Moines, Iowa. Alyssa was a normal girl her age who enjoyed drawing, playing video games, and putting makeup on. She was bullied because she was openly bisexual and was perceived differently than others. At her school she was mercilessly hounded and it made her feel worthless. After two months of being bullied, she committed suicide. Six days before her suicide, laws were changed during the school year that only punished bullies by kicking them out of school or sending them to Juvenile Detention for two weeks. In the last decade, at least 14 people other than Amanda committed suicide in this school district, and there has been no severe punishment for bullies who have pushed students to commit suicide.

 Why New Laws Will Be Effective:

Now that you have seen reasons why the laws should be changed, how they should be changed, and learned about kids who weren't protected by laws, here is why the new laws will be effective:

1. Bullies will think twice before harming other students because the consequences are more severe and they are receiving counseling. 

2. Victims and bullies will be stronger emotionally and safer because they are learning social-emotional strategies. 

3. Teachers will be trained to see bullying and stop it before it gets worse. 

4. Students will receive social-emotional learning that prevents bullying and face bullies with courage if they are bullied. 

5. The law will be in place nationwide so all students across the country are protected the same way. 



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