DENVER — The Colorado House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a measure designed to reduce incidents of bullying in Colorado public schools.
If passed by the full legislature, the bill — HB-1254 — would clearly define bullying, create a state grant program to which schools can apply in order to fund bullying prevention programs, and require each school district to adopt a comprehensive, evidence-based anti-bullying policy.
Brad Clark, the Executive Director of One Colorado, a statewide LGBTQ equality rights advocacy group, released the following statement in response to today’s action by the House:
“We applaud the decision by the House to move this important bill forward. All students deserve to go to school free from fear, isolation, and harassment. It’s our job as adults to ensure every student is protected and safe in our schools.”
A recent statewide poll showed that 6 out of every ten parents surveyed said that they believe bullying is the single largest problem confronting their kids in schools.
During testimony two weeks ago in front of the House Education Committee, several persons who’d been on the receiving end of bullying testified about the emotional effects of the taunting they received.
“The effects of those days, still linger with you as an adult,” said Grier Bailey, a state lobbyist who said he was taunted because his name rhymed with queer. “I think we’re taught as kids to turn the other cheek, and walk away, and that’s probably as adults, the right thing to do.”
Bailey told lawmakers that often these days many children don’t have that choice, since bullying now affects them in their homes with cell phone texts, Instant Messaging and social media sites such as Facebook, and MySpace.
Dr. Julaine Field, a senior researcher at the University of Colorado’s Colorado Springs campus, told the Education Committee:
“Now their tormentors are available to them or responding to them in their own home. It’s easy to ask parents to pull the plug on the computer. But at the same time, their social support network is also online.”
The measure, which is co-sponsored by Representatives Sue Schafer (D-Wheat Ridge) and Kevin Priola (R-Henderson), would overhaul current state anti-bullying guidelines for schools which would include sexual orientation and establish a state government organization to raise money for anti-bullying programs.
The measure requires that the state’s school districts implement programs to train teachers and create databases about bullying incidents in schools.