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Local Students, Educators at Bethlehem’s Northeast Middle School Describe School District’s Unique Anti-Bullying Program, Need for Legislation / Dept of Ed Study: 1 in 3 Children Between 12 and 18 Will Be Impacted by Bullying / Casey Bill Would Require Schools Districts Across the Country to Develop, Implement Locally Driven Anti-Bullying Policies

Bethlehem, PA-  As a major education reform bill moves through the Senate, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by Lehigh Valley students and educators, called for inclusion of ‎his bipartisan anti-bullying bill in the overhaul today at a press conference. Students and educators from the region also discussed the challenges from bullying and the need to confront it. A Department of Education study has found that 1 in 3 children between the ages of 12 and 18 will be impacted by bullying. Casey’s bill, the Safe Schools Improvement Act, would require school districts across the country to develop and implement locally driven anti-bullying policies.

“Bullying is a challenge that impacts far too many children and families across the Lehigh Valley and throughout the nation,” Senator Casey said. “With the advent of text-messaging, social media, and social networking, many children find they cannot escape harassment when they go home at night. It follows them from the moment they wake until the moment they go to sleep. This legislation will ensure that schools districts across the country take proactive steps to combat bullying and protect children.”  

Bullying and harassment of students is widespread and affects millions of students every year.  The Safe Schools Improvement Act is designed to help schools address this problem by ensuring that no child is afraid to go to school for fear of unchecked bullying and harassment.

What is 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

Why is this needed?

  • A 2009 U.S. Department of Education study found that bullying and harassment affects nearly one in every three American students between the ages of 12 through 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 the 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.