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Bipartisan Team Introduces Federal Anti-Bullying Bill

March 10, 2011

The National Safe Schools Partnership, a coalition of over 80 youth, health and education organizations led by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, praised Tuesday’s reintroduction of the Safe Schools Improvement Act by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), lead co-sponsor Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and 17 total bipartisan co-sponsors.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require schools to implement comprehensive anti-bullying policies that include enumerated characteristics of students most often targeted, such as race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. A bipartisan House bill is also expected to be introduced in the coming weeks by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif). In the last Congress, the Senate and House versions finished the Congress with, respectively, 17 and 131 bipartisan co-sponsors.

“We are pleased to join our partners in the National Safe Schools Partnership to voice our continuing strong support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act. We thank Senators Casey and Kirk and all the co-sponsors for recognizing the need for federal leadership to address a public health crisis affecting youth across the country.”

Said Sen. 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.”

Nearly two-thirds of middle and high school students (65%) said they had been bullied in school in the past year, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report from GLSEN and Harris Interactive that surveyed more than 3,000 students. However, students at schools with a comprehensive anti-bullying policy similar to the one required by the Safe Schools Improvement Act were less likely than other students to report a serious harassment problem at their school (33% vs. 44%).

No federal law or policy exists that requires schools to adopt policies to address bullying, and existing state laws vary greatly in their breadth and effectiveness.

Source:  National Safe Schools Partnership