Oklahoma lawmakers have voted against strengthening the state’s anti-bullying laws.
The measure — named after Ty Field, an 11-year old boy from Perkins, Okla., who killed himself last year after bullies repeatedly targeted him at school — would have added cyber bullying to state laws already in place, and mandated all school personnel be trained in recognizing bullying and require counseling for all parties when bullying does occur.
“One year ago today I buried my son. My wife and I buried our baby, laid him in the ground,” Ty’s father Kirk Smalley said. “We kissed him on his cold forehead for the last time, and since that time, we’ve given our lives to this.”
But a bill that would help educate teachers and school staff members about signs of bullying, in particular cyber bullying, was voted against by the House of Representatives, an action that has Ty’s father in tears.
Some House members said they weren’t happy with a revision that required schools to keep track of bullying incidents and report back to the Legislature.
“I’m tired of people just coming to the legislature to solve problems that they can solve themselves,” said Rep. Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa), who voted against the bill. “I just thought this is overkill.”
House members killed the legislation by a vote of 52-44.
“Any child that takes their own life because they were picked on at school, this will be on their heads, and I hope they can sleep with themselves at night,” said Smalley.