Anti-Bullying Bill Set For Public Hearing

Few of us would disagree that we have a duty to keep children safe, and that means we are all invested in ensuring that our schools provide a safe learning environment.

That is why we’re pleased to see that HB 224 — proposed anti-bullying legislation filed by State Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin — has been scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Public Education next Tuesday. If it becomes law, Rep. Strama’s bill would provide educators and school administrators the kind of comprehensive tools they need to stop bullying in its tracks and, hopefully, prevent the kind of unfortunate and tragic cases of teen suicides we have all read about in the past year.

Our friends at Equality Texas can give you a snapshot of the problem, and the reasons why it demands a response from our lawmakers. Surveys conducted by EQTX have shown that 39 percent of Texas students have reported being verbally harassed, and 17 percent reported being physically harassed or assaulted. Equally troubling are the reasons for the abuse, which include race/ethnicity, gender and perceptions about the student’s sexuality. More on this legislation after the jump. Here is just some of what HB 224 would do:

  • Amend the Education Code to allow teachers to receive training in the prevention, identification and reporting of and response to bullying.
  • Expand the definition of bullying to include bullying by electronic means such as computers (Internet/electronic media), cell phones, text messaging, and instant messaging.
  • Expand the definition of bullying to include actions “motivated by a perceived imbalance of power based on another student’s actual or perceived personal characteristics, behavior, or beliefs or by another student’s association with a third person and based on the third person’s characteristics, behavior, or beliefs”.
  • Except in certain circumstances, mandate that the school district superintendent provide notice to the parent or guardian of the victim of the alleged bullying. This provision also mandates that the school principal inform the victim of their right to not have their parent or guardian notified of the incident.

If you support these kinds of common-sense solutions, you’re not alone. Polling conducted by TFN last year found that 88 percent of Texas voters favored requiring public schools “to protect all children from bullying, harassment, and discrimination in school, including the children of gay and lesbian parents or teenagers who are gay.”

In other words, almost all Texans agree that bullying — no matter the reasons for it — should not be tolerated in our schools. This legislation would be an important first step in addressing this critical problem.

What You Can Do
We encourage you to contact members on the House Committee on Public Education to express your support for this legislation. You can find each member’s contact information here.

Here are some suggestions for what you can say when contacting legislators:

  • Bullying is a serious problem in Texas that needs to be addressed immediately.
  • Texans overwhelmingly support requiring schools to prevent bullying, as a number of recent polls have shown.
  • All school children deserve to have a safe space in which to learn.

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2 Comments

  1. Charles
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    I have a bullying story that really happened in our family just a week ago. Read this. You won’t be sorry.

    My son is 9 years old, and he rides home on the school bus each day. He loves riding on the bus, and usually jumps off it with great happiness and enthusiasm at his end stop near our house. You also have to understand that he is the youngest kid in his class, nearly a year younger than the other kids. He is also a very sensible and balanced kid who actually has emotions and expresses them. Yeah!!! Some woman 20 years from now really is going to live happily ever after—all you single girls at TFN eat your hearts out.

    Well, anyway, he got off the bus in tears for the first time ever last week. My wife was really shocked when she met him at the bust stop. As it turned out, some out of control girl had done the bully bit on him really badly throughout the bus trip. This appears to have been a first ever occurrence, and I would guess that this might have been a new girl in town who was riding the bus for the first time.

    Here is what happened. My wife went down to our local elementary school to talk to the principal about it. Our principal is a wonderful black lady named Pearl. Everyone in town calls her “Ms. Pearl,” and she is something of an education legend here in town. In fact, her son is the principal at our local high school. It must run in the family. Ms. Pearl is a really smart and articulate lady who is masterfully social. However, I have always sensed another side of her. That would be the side that Muhammed Ali would fear getting into the ring with back in 1967. I can tell that side is one tough momma!!!

    She was very disturbed that my son had been bullied on the bus and took action immediately to stop it. No well maybe. No pussyfooting around. No reluctance. No fear of her parents. I don’t know what she did, but she sure put the fear of the Lord into the life of the girl who was bullying my son. She learned really quickly that the reach of Big Momma Pearl extended far beyond the school house door. The next day on the bus, this little girl walked up to my son and said, “I am sorry that I was bullying you, and it won’t happen again.”

    There have been zero problems since that incident. Therefore, I think TFN and Equality Texas are onto something here.

  2. Posted February 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    •Expand the definition of bullying to include actions “motivated by a perceived imbalance of power based on another student’s actual or perceived personal characteristics, behavior, or beliefs or by another student’s association with a third person and based on the third person’s characteristics, behavior, or beliefs”.

    Utter gibberish at best!

    It also bans actions intended to help or assist others in overcoming imbalances of power as in teaching, coaching, or playing with another whose characteristics, behavior, or beliefs are not up to snuff with that persons own perceptions.

    At least it is unenforceable as such.

    At worst it is brain washing with unpredictable outcomes.

    And it teaches suppresssion of expression, free speech and free thought.

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