Washington, D.C. – A Department of Education study found that 1 in 5 children between the ages of 12 and 18 will be impacted by bullying. In an effort to address this ongoing issue, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by over 30 of his colleagues, has introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. This legislation works to ensure that no child is afraid to go to school for fear of unchecked bullying and harassment.
“Bullying has no place in our schools or on the internet,” said Senator Casey. “The challenges associated with bullying will only worsen as young people become increasingly more reliant on text-messaging, social media and social networking. The constant connectedness makes it so that many children cannot escape the harassment even in their own homes. This legislation will ensure that school districts across the country take proactive steps to combat bullying and protect children.”
U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Tina Smith (D-MN) are cosponsors of this legislation.
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.
Quick Stats on Bullying:
- A 2013 U.S. Department of Education study found that bullying and harassment affects more than one in every five 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 this 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. As of 2018, 16 states and the District of Columbia have enacted enumerated anti-bulling laws.
Numerous education, health, law enforcement and youth development organizations support SSIA, including 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.