March 20, 2018

Warner & Kaine Cosponsor Bill To Help Prevent Bullying In Schools

Safe Schools Legislation Would Require School Districts Across the Country to Develop, Implement Locally Driven Anti-Bullying Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine co-sponsored the Safe Schools Improvement Act, legislation requiring schools to take greater measures to prevent bullying and harassment. This follows a Department of Education study which found that 1 in 5 children between the ages of 12 and 18 will be impacted by bullying. There is currently no federal law in place to comprehensively and expressly address issues of bullying or harassment.

“Every child deserves to learn free from fear of bullying and harassment," said the Senators. “We’re proud to introduce legislation that will help protect Virginia students from harm, and work toward ensuring that our schools make children feel safe and welcome.” 

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. 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. This legislation was originally sponsored by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).

Specifically, the Safe Schools Improvement Act:

  • Requires 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.
  • Ensures 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.
  • Requires that states report data on incidents of bullying and harassment to the Department of Education. 

This legislation is supported by 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.

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