WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) today introduced bipartisan legislation entitled the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) that will help prevent bullying in schools.
“Bullying and harassment affect millions of students every year. 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,” said Senator Casey. “I am pleased to introduce the Safe Schools Improvement Act to help ensure that every child receives a quality education that builds self-confidence. This bill is a crucial step towards ensuring that no child is so afraid to go to school that he or she stays home for fear of bullying.”
“Bullying on basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion has been growing at a rapid pace in the age of texting and online social networks,” said Senator Kirk. “Our children need to feel protected and safe so they can learn and I hope the Casey/Kirk bill will encourage schools and districts to develop effective prevention and response protocols."
The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require schools and districts receiving designated federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting 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. The Act would ensure that schools and school districts implement effective prevention programs in order to better prevent and respond to incidences of bullying and harassment and would require that states report data on incidences of bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.
A recent poll commissioned by the USA Network found that 85 percent of Americans would support a new federal law to require schools to enforce specific rules to prevent bullying.
Additional cosponsors of the Safe Schools Improvement Act include Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kerry (D-MA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
The Safe Schools Improvement Act has broad support from educators, administrators and civil rights organizations, including the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American School Health Association, National Association of School Psychologists, 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 National Council of La Raza.