Casey, Joined by NEPA Students and Educators, Unveils Bipartisan Anti-Bullying Bill

Local Students, Educators Discussed Challenges and Need to Confront Bullying / Dept of Ed Study: 1 in 3 Children Between 12 and 18 Will Be Impacted by Bullying / Casey Bill Will Require Schools Districts Across the Country to Develop, Implement Locally Driven Anti-Bullying Policies

Casey, Joined by NEPA Students and Educators, Unveils Bipartisan Anti-Bullying Bill

Old Forge, PA - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by NEPA students and educators, unveiled his bipartisan anti-bullying in schools bill. Casey’s bill would require schools districts across the country to develop and implement locally driven anti-bullying policies that protect vulnerable children. A Department of Education study found that 1 in 3 children between the ages of 12 and 18 will be impacted by bullying. Casey highlighted a school district estimate that works to show the potential impact across the state.  

“Bullying is a challenge that impacts far too many children and families across the country,” Senator Casey said. “With the advent of text-messaging, social media, and social networking, many children find they cannot escape the 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.

Bullying in Pennsylvania

The graph below utilizes data from the Pennsylvania State Department of Education regarding the number of students in grades 5 through 12 in districts across the State for the 2013-2014 academic year. The Department of Education found that 1 in 3 students between the ages of 12 to 18 will be impacted by bullying. The chart applies this data to the school district population in grades for students within that age range to develop an estimate of the number of students in each district who could be impacted by bullying.

 

School District

County

Students Grades 5-12

One in Three

Philadelphia

Philadelphia

137,674

45,558

Pittsburgh

Allegheny

26,041

8,680

Scranton

Lackawanna

9,795

3,265

Wilkes-Barre

Luzerne

6,903

2,301

Harrisburg

Dauphin

6,398

2,132

York

York

5,123

1,707

Lancaster

Lancaster

11,127

3,709

Reading

Berks

17,487

5,829

Allentown

Lehigh

17,006

5,668

Bethlehem

Northampton

13,900

4,633

Easton

Northampton

8,736

2,912

North Penn

Montgomery

12,734

4,244

Boyertown Area

Berks

7,132

2,377

Downingtown Area

Chester

12,028

4009

Erie City

Erie

11,740

3,913

Greater Johnstown

Cambria

3,103

1,034

Altoona

Blair

7,820

2,606

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John Rizzo and Alex Miller 202-228-6367