Roger Mahony - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Archiocese of Los Angeles)
Anti-Bullying Legislation Takes Center Stage
With more than 300 education-related bills introduced in the current two-year legislative session (2011-12), the topic of bullying in schools seems to be one of the prevailing issues on the minds of legislators.
According to a 2009 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of youth across the United States, one in five students in grades 9-12 say they were victims of bullying on school property over a one-year period. The California legislature and state school boards have frequently addressed this issue, enacting many laws and regulations requiring teacher training and enhanced penalties for students who bully others.
This session, California’s legislature has considered 10 separate bills related to bullying and pupil safety in K-12 public schools and postsecondary institutions. However, with imposing legislative deadlines and the state’s recurring fiscal limitations, only five of these bills continue to move forward.
Among those remaining, potentially the most important, is AB 746, introduced by Assembly Member Nora Campos (D-San Jose). This bill relates specifically to “cyber-bullying” and would add “the posting of messages on a social network Internet Web site” to the list of issues school districts are encouraged to address within their strategies to improve school attendance and reduce school crime and violence.
Moreover, it appears that the California legislature is not the only governing body attempting to address this issue, as the issue of bullying has also gotten nationwide attention and has even become a more global issue, with France, Mexico, and Brazil, all adopting measures related to the topic. Citing two global studies on the issue, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a 2006 report that cell phones and the Internet provide “new opportunities for bullying.”
For more information, contact Mary Samaniego, firstname.lastname@example.org