Does Minnesota need a stronger anti-bullying law?

The Minnesota Senate Committee on Education debated several amendments to a bill that would strengthen the state’s anti-bullying bill Tuesday night, March 11, 2014. After four hours of debate that stretched into an evening session, the committee passed the bill on to the Senate Finance Committee. Tim Post/MPR News
“A bill to strengthen Minnesota’s anti-bullying law cleared a Senate education committee at the State Capitol Tuesday.

“The bill’s chief author made changes he hopes make it more likely to become law this year. But opponents say the changes do not ease many of their concerns,” writes MPR News reporter Tim Post.

The bill aims to replace Minnesota’s current anti-bullying law, which at 37 words is considered one of the weakest in the nation.

The new measure would require school districts to train staff on how to spot and prevent bullying. And it would mandate better reporting and follow up of bullying incidents.

The bill’s chief author, state Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, proposed an amendment to ease some of its implementation issues, as a response to school officials who feared the bill was too burdensome and costly. The bill now more narrowly defines bullying, essentially, as any “intimidating, threatening or abusive conduct” but drops any reference to “harassing” behavior.

Read the rest of the story here.

Today’s Question: Does Minnesota need a stronger anti-bullying law?

  • Jessica Banks

    Yes! Some school districts are doing a good job of supporting all students and teaching respect, but a child’s safety shouldn’t depend on what part of our state they live in. While opponents claim that naming the most common characteristics (real or perceived) for which students are bullied creates “special rights” for some students, the reality is that when we tell kids they can’t bully anybody (EVEN students with different races, religions, disability levels, economic levels, country of origin, sexual orientation, etc.), it fundamentally changes the climate of fear and intolerance that exists in many schools. That change supports and protects ALL students, giving all our kids better access to a safe and supportive learning environment and helping to close Minnesota’s achievement gap.

    • Jamie

      That’s not the way civil rights are currently working.

      Judge orders shop to make cakes for gay weddings against his religious beliefs.

      Meanwhile: Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, has been told by her gay hairdresser that he will no longer be working on her coif. It seems that her hairdresser, Mr. Antonio Darden, does not appreciate the Governor’s stance on homosexuality and gay marriage. Because of this he will no longer cut her hair.

      All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

      • Jessica Banks

        Schools aren’t run like businesses; they’re a public institution, and need to accommodate everyone. The bill specifically excludes private and religious schools for people who don’t like the way public schools do it. And there hasn’t been a single lawsuit over denial of service in Minnesota.

        • Jamie

          I wasn’t suggesting that every school shouldn’t treat every student fairly and equally. They should.

          What I was saying is that laws spelling out specific examples of this fairness create “more equal” classes of students.

          • Jessica Banks

            Actually it doesn’t. The bill states several places that the definitions and protections apply to all students. It’s not unfair to anyone to acknowledge, though, that certain characteristics (whether real or perceived) expose some kids to a much higher risk of being bullied. And there are volumes of evidence that show that when you enumerate characteristics, bullying goes down for everyone. My son was bullied for his disability, but I know that by saying that’s not okay, this bill also helps protect my non-disabled son.

          • RobinMavis_AHGET

            I think it says includes but is not limited to…so it includes everyone. The specific examples were just that examples. It wasn’t an exhaustive list and the bill even states that.

        • Gary F

          “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

          Yes, it it time to read George Orwell’s Animal Farm again. Do they read that in schools today? How about 1984? Thought Crimes? Or is all this hitting too close to home?

          • JQP

            or the John Birch newsletters … good lord there is a entire national movement based on thought crime … and the T-Party is its latest brand name.
            If you aint them … you is the enemy of ‘Mericah.

      • JQP

        I agree , it is egregious that Mr Darden mixes politics, personal morals and business. Open for business is open for business … to all comers – no discrimination.

        but the solution would never be to let everyone do it. Were that so … you can wipe the word “united” from our country name and let us slowly devolve from a global leader into a loose neighborhood of “state-countries” that block trade in the name of jobs protection.

        We can sell our military equipment the highest bidder, relilnquish any sense of control on the seven seas, pretty much shut down our global satellite spy network and let russia, china and india run the globe for a few decades.

  • B. C. Johnson

    Probably. Especially since they can’t pass a law forbidding people from spawning who really shouldn’t be allowed to.

    You need a licence to catch a fish, but anyone can have a kid.

  • Bill

    I don’t like that it focuses on particular groups. It should be all encompassing if there is going to be a new one. What is wrong with the old one? 37 words can work but I haven’t seen that published.

  • Gary F

    Problem is, the currently proposed bill is so vague and not well defined, it will be hard to enforced and subjective in how it is used.

    Sounds good, feels good, but from what I hear, a mess to enforce.

    But then, it feels good, so that’s all that matters.

    • Yanotha Twangai

      But you can’t get much more vague than the current feckless law.

  • Jamie

    What is wrong with keeping the control at the local level? Why do we have to try to centralize everything and make the world a one size fits all, centralized, authoritarian top-down model? This is an issue that each local school board can and has to deal with.

    • there needs to be a standard…and the current law is pretty pathetic as a standard. and nothing says a school can’t have a policy that’s even better than what’s mandated by the state…

    • melissa thompson

      When it comes to protections and civil rights “one size does fit all” or at least it’s supposed to according to the US Constitution.

  • Sue de Nim

    Yes. Local control is overrated. (It was in the name of local control [“states’ rights”] that Jim Crow laws were defended.) A uniform state-wide policy would help ensure that a child’s treatment doesn’t depend on the whims of a local school board.

  • PaulJ

    Of course, you can’t have people terrorizing other people. If parents don’t discipline the creeps, somebody has to be forced to take responsibility.

    • Bill

      You make a valid point. Have you ever seen clips of that show with Sarah Palin’s daughter’s kid spouting off slurs with her mother laughing it off the whole time? Funny, yet terrifying. I wonder that was staged.

  • melissa thompson

    We absolutely need a clear cut law prohibiting bullying. I am beyond disapointed at the removal of any reference to “harassing” behavior. This drastically weakens the bill in my opinion. Most bullying is not overtly physical or violent. It’s harassing and relentless. By removing any reference to this type of bullying you open allow a dangerous and damaging behavior to go on. I am so, so disappointed to hear about this change in language because they don’t realize

    • Yanotha Twangai

      But there are already laws that protect people against harassment, so leaving that out of the bullying law does not weaken it.

      • melissa thompson

        I disagree and in the context of bullying it is absolutley needed. Many bullies harass their targets and then because they’ve not threatened or physically assaulted them are able to talk their way out of any consequneces often claiming “to be joking”, or that their actions “were misunderstood” by their victim. Trust me, speaking from personal experience “harassment” absolutley needs to be clearly defined and expressly prohibited.

        • Yanotha Twangai

          No, it’s the other way around. The reason for having anti-bullying policies in schools is to deal with noxious behavior that doesn’t meet the legal definition of harassment, or that can’t be prosecuted as harassment for whatever reason.

          • melissa thompson

            I guess you’re not understanding the point I’m trying to make so we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            The point is, harassment is a technical term that’s already defined in law, and victims have legal recourse if there’s enough evidence to prosecute the perpetrator. Bullying, under the proposed law, would refer to certain behaviors that are less serious than criminal harassment. If a new bullying law were to include language about harassment, it would be redundant and might even have the effect of weakening the current laws against harassment.

          • melissa thompson

            You are just simply incorrect when you say redundancy would make it weaker. I am simply sharing my thoughts and will go with my family’s personal experience with harassment in the Anoka Hennepin School District and many statistics that support our claim as justification for my opinions.

    • Jessica Banks

      There are statutory reasons that that change made sense. I was extremely nervous first, but because harassment is already a violation of the law, writing more laws covering it would muddy the waters and make it harder for kids suffering from harassment to get law enforcement help. The definition of bullying in the bill now includes behavior that’s repeated and forms a pattern, which accomplishes much the same task.

      • melissa thompson

        Jessica, I appreciate the explanation and wish I felt confident that leaving it out wouldn’t effect the teeth of the law, but I don’t. In our school district (Anoka Hennepin) our harassment policy is vague and allows the district to decide whether or not to enforce it on a case by case basis based on who’s being harassed and who the harasser is. To prove my point we have a current staff member who has repeatedly publically disparaged gay people both in our local paper and at official school board meetings in direct violation of our district’s harassment policy, however the district refused to address it as harassment citing her rights to religious expression and freedom of speech. Another member of anti gay religios group (that the above mentioned staff member is President of) was recently appointed to our anti-bullying task force (which was formed as a condition of the lawsuit they lost due to LGBTQ bias) and is responsible to combat LGBTQ bullying and bias in our district. So maybe you can see why we would need outside definitions of and enforcement in order to get relief, because as it stands now our district cherry picks which protected class they will protect and which policies it will enforced based on the offenders.

        • Jessica Banks

          I completely understand your apprehension, and I’m sure I’ll be up there to help door knock for better school board candidates in the future. 🙂

  • Lisa H

    I’m very conflicted about this law. We’re going to have laws about personality styles a.k.a Bullies! Then what? Are they then going to make laws about people not being allowed to eat peanuts in the same room at their precious allergic child? Instead, why don’t we make laws for people to take parenting classes on how to parent their children so they don’t fall victim to bullies & nut eaters!! With the first amendment, you can’t legislate what one person can say to another. How about you teach your child to turn the other cheek & rise above it. Parent of these kids play victim too. They want someone to intervene instead of taking personal responsibility for child they brought into this world. We sign up for all of it when we reproduce. Pull up the panties & start teaching your kids how to cope with the big, bad world!! They may leave the nest one day & have to stand on their own two feet!!

    • RobinMavis_AHGET

      There is no such thing as a personality style of Bully. Rather, bullying is a behavior. Behaviors and activities have always been regulated by law from the time our constitution was adopted. The right to free speech is not an unlimited right and is regulated. For instance, you can not yell Fire in a crowded theater just because you have the right to free speech. If there is no fire you can be charged with inciting panic. You also seem to think that bullying behavior is limited to words. It is not, pushing a kids books down a stairwell and his term paper being ruined because of it is bullying behavior. How about if we get at the root instead of telling people to ‘turn the other cheek’. I am curious if you have read the entire bill? Have you read the definition of bullying included in the bill? It might help address some of the misconceptions you hold about the bill and bullying in general.

    • it’s my understanding that the first amendment really pertains to speaking out against your government…of course people can say whatever they want to each other, but part of ‘pulling up your panties’ and growing up is learning how to treat each other and not being deliberately rude or hurtful to others…the attitude of ‘well, we got bullied in school and we survived’ just perpetuates the problem…our society could use a lot more lessons in being civil…

  • Jim G

    Yes, bully behavior in our society is rampant. We need a consistent standard across the state so everyone is held to the same standard. Also, bully behavior needs to be clearly written so everyone understands what bully behavior looks like, sounds like, and feels like. Once identified it must be stopped immediately or it grows very quickly. In addition, we need to keep in mind that adults who use bully tactics and behaviors to achieve positions of power and influence will fight to the very last against any impingement of bullying.

  • Pearly

    I think the worst form of bullying is calling some one a racist because they have a different opinion than you.

    • Bill

      I don’t think that qualifies as bullying, I think that just means whoever this person was may have been making an irrational argument. Unless your opinion really was racist, I suppose.

      • Jamie

        I believe the pearlescent one was referring to the multitude of people on the left side of the political spectrum that accuse anyone who disagrees with the president of doing so based on his race, which, by the way, is half white.

        • Bill

          Yeah, that’s a pretty outlandish theoretical accusation.
          Half-white is a race?

      • Jeff

        The word using the word racist and racism are the most common words used by bullies…if it is true racism the general population tends to ignore it and fights against it directly…disagreeing over public policy does not qualify as “racism”.

        • Bill

          What other words are common? I’ve never heard of the connection between bullies and the words racist and racism before, but I’d like to hear more.

  • Lauri Barber

    I have had students say, “It was just a joke.” Parents have agreed that students need to “get tougher.” Some refer to “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” However, abused women and men both say that the words are FAR worse than the physical, because the physical bruises disappear, but the lingering doubt is always there. I have had students bully me (throwing things off my travel cart and run), and the principal would not back me because the boy was a quarterback!

    Training for PARENTS, TEACHERS, and PRINCIPALS would make it clearer exactly what to do and why it is so important. It is a matter of lost future potential.

  • Enforcement and application of the rules equally among students by Teachers and Administrators is where the breakdown in preventing bullying to occur. New rules and regulations will not help, if the staff that parents entrust with their children are unwilling to apply rules fairly and equally among them, whether they are rich or poor, black or white, overweight or underweight, gay or straight, or come from a single parent or two parent household.
    And giving teachers and administrators police powers outside of school, is a threat to the rights of privacy for the individual (even kids have an inherent right to privacy under the constitution). I don’t think kids or parents, would appreciate a teacher or administrator stalking a student online and/or outside of school.

  • Anti-bullying bill? Only if it includes ALL targets of bullying

    (Link at end contains the links to all references below)

    If you’re going to put together an anti-bullying law, ALL victims and potential victims of bullying need to be included.

    Time after time, especially in this last year, we’ve seen law abiding gun owners and their children become the target of the anti-rights bullies. These attacks and bullying tactics against law abiding gun owners and permit-to-carry holders have been ramping up at an alarming rate recently, and there’s no doubt that the adults perpetrating this bullying are instilling that same bullying attitude in their children, who will no doubt be targeting their innocent classmates with similar harassment, attacks and bullying.

    In light of the evidence I will post below, the language in the bill needs to be amended to include ALL of the potential targets of bullying, as follows:

    >>>>Intimidating, threatening, abusive, or harassing conduct may involve, but is not limited to, conduct that is directed at a student or students based on a person’s (or parent’s) actual or perceived:

    –Political affiliation (Conservative, Republican, Tea Party, etc)

    –Membership or participation in various clubs or organizations (i.e. NRA, other gun rights orgs, gun clubs, etc.)

    –Participation in various hobbies, lifestyles or competitions (i.e. shooting sports, hunting, target practice, etc.)<<<<

    .
    As we've publicly seen published in mainstream media, newspapers, YouTube and Twitter feeds, the anti-rights bullies make no secret about their instability and their desire for harm to come to law abiding citizens who happen to be gun owners:

    –Donald Kaul in the Des Moines Register calling for the death of NRA members and for its supporters to be dragged behind pick up trucks, and for a perfectly legal and law abiding organization, the NRA, to be classified as a "terrorist organization. Link.

    That's BULLYING.

    –The Journal News published the addresses of legal, law abiding gun owners in their newspaper. They published the address of victims of violent crimes and victims of stalkers who'd purchased firearms to protect themselves. Link.

    That's BULLYING.

    –Anti-Gun Newspaper’s Gun Map Leads to Stalking of Domestic Violence Victims. Link.

    That's BULLYING.

    –A gun control proponent on YouTube calls for the murder of Michelle Bachmann: “I think we should shoot the bastards…. Especially Michele Bachmann. I think we should stick her up on a wall and put a bullet in her.” Link.

    That's BULLYING.

    –Texas Democratic Party Official Calls For Murder of NRA Members. Texas Democrat Party official John Cobarruvias issued multiple terrorist threats to begin hunting and killing people who voice support for legal gun ownership:

    “Can we now shoot the #NRA and everyone who defends them?,” he wrote on Twitter, also writing on his blog, “They need to [be] wiped off the face of the earth.” Link.

    That's BULLYING.

    Liberals on Twitter call for murder of NRA members (Link):

    @prisonforbush: "Someone should shoot this m*****f****r NRA President David Keene," added Michael Mayer. In at least two other tweets, "Mayer" suggested using Keene for "target practice."

    @angrydemdotcom: “#GunControl will exist when some nutjob chooses to exercise their #2ndAmendment rights at #NRA headquarters…”

    @90sRememberer: “Murder every NRA member”

    @Arseburgers: “…Get every member of the NRA to stand in a circle, aim & shoot…”

    That's BULLYING

    Post-Newtown witch hunt: NRA president and members bombarded with death threats (Link):

    That's BULLYING

    Professor Calls for NRA Member’s Death By Firing Squad: May 30, 2013, WV Gazette. Link.

    That's BULLYING

    Sept. 19, 2013, Journalism professor says he hopes for murder of NRA members' children. Link.

    That's BULLYING.

    Link (includes links to all references above):
    http://www.minnesota2a.com/news-commentary/anti-bullyingbillonlyifitincludesalltargetsofbullying

    • Yanotha Twangai

      The category of “citizens who happen to be gun owners” is of an entirely different sort from that of “citizens who happen to be…..” GLBT or racial, ethnic or religious minorities, or any other category listed explicitly in the bill. But in any case, since the list is explicitly not exhaustive and intended only to give examples, it would cover bullying based on actual or perceived political affiliation, etc.

      • You’ve confirmed my point: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

        • Yanotha Twangai

          No, actually, you’ve confirmed my point that you have failed to understand (or deliberately misconstrued) an important nuance in this discussion.

          • No, actually, you’ve confirmed my point that you have failed to read and understand (or deliberately misconstrued) the definitive and un-nuanced nature of the bill.

      • Beth-Ann Bloom

        Children should not own guns so this point is not relevant to the discussion of school safety.

  • rperschmann

    Yes we we need a stronger anti-bullying law for Minnesota. Those who oppose tend to be people who think the young should be free to express their opinion on race, sexual orientation, economic status, and failure to look “normal.” As far as politics of parents goes, I think that the children of all people deserve respect. Tea Party Kids should not suffer bullying. Atheists, those opposed to the NRA and those opposed to the Tea Party also should not be bullied. No Bullies, period. But opinion should be freely discussed on all subjects. When there is hate talk in the air… it is always wrong. No Hate talk, period. No hating Catholics, Muslims, atheists, Lutherans, Gays. No hating Russians, or Ukrainians… that is the issue of the week. Is it okay to hate Nazis? Well there you go. I teach 100% rejection of Nazis. I do hate Nazis. Would hating Nazis be a problem? In West Germany, after the war they had a program called denazification. I think that the answer to my question is that a Nazi is the most hateful human form in all history. Now if we have a student of Nazi parents, I don’t want him to suffer bullying, however we really need to teach a full course on history of fascism. Is anyone going to speak up for fascist rights?

    • Jamie

      You maybe just did speak up for fascist rights.

      You state that “opinion should be freely discussed on all subjects”, right after you said (and maybe I’m reading between the lines here that you think expression of this next opinion is bad,) “Those who oppose tend to be people who think the young should be free to
      express their opinion on race, sexual orientation, economic status, and
      failure to look ‘normal.'”

      So, is it okay for those kids to express their opinion or is that bullying?

      • rperschmann

        You are correct Jamie, I did get a little too free form in my argument. Freedom to express opinion of hate, fear, or resentment of other people is a disturbing thing to want. I call it bullying.

        • Jamie

          OK, that’s what I thought. Seems to me you only want to hear opinions that agree with your own, or with the established belief system of your choosing. If I understand you correctly, you’re saying someone with a belief different from your own on sexual orientation is not free to express their opinion about that. I’m a little afraid of you. You’re attempting to keep me from expressing my opinion, which is not hateful or fearful or resentful, but based on my religious belief. That makes you a bully, does it not?

          • rperschmann

            Wrong Jamie, if that good book teaches hate… keep it at home or at your version of church.

          • Jamie

            It’s not hate, but thanks for the advice, bully.

          • Jamie

            “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” – William F. Buckley

          • Bill

            You seem to be confused about the idea that just because a belief is religious, it can’t also be hateful, fearful, or resentful.

          • Jamie

            Do you hate arsonists who start fires because they have an undeniable impulse to start fires, or do you hate what they did, and understand that they, like you and me, are imperfect?

          • Bill

            Let’s see if I can address that…
            No, I do not hate arsonists.
            I don’t know whether or not arsonists, as a class with a collective psyche that can be characterized, have an undeniable impulse to start fires.
            I’m not sure which arsonist you’re talking about.
            However, if it wasn’t their property they were burning, or was trying to engage in an insurance scheme, you’re right, they might be imperfect.
            I know I am not perfect, however I cannot speak to whether or not you are imperfect, I do not have enough information.
            What are you trying to say here?
            My original post was trying to say that sometimes a belief that can be characterized as religious can also, at the same time, be hateful, resentful, or fearful.

          • Jamie

            I understood the content of your post and I understand that you can pull verses from the bible out of context in an attempt to “justify” all kinds of behavior.

            I don’t know if I have the appropriate words to express my sentiment, but I’ll attempt it. I was trying to draw you a parallel displaying the sin versus the sinner. I’m not saying that a practicing homosexual is any different than a person who has sex outside of a committed, wedded relationship. I don’t hate that person either.

            Short version – it’s a sin – one of many; sin separates us from God; God will forgive you through His Son if you ask; calling it a sin is not a hateful act.

          • Bill

            My apologies, I didn’t understand you were talking about homosexuals spefically.
            What is a practicing homosexual? I’m pretty sure a homosexual is a homosexual whether or not they are practicing, whatever that means. And what exactly makes a homosexual the same as an adulterer? One is a deceitful act, one is being a homosexual. Unless the person is lying about being a homosexual, but I’m not sure that is common. Or lying to themselves about being a homosexual, but most stories I’ve heard it’s the other way around and they are lying to themselves about not being a homosexual.
            I still don’t quite understand. “it’s a sin” — what is a sin? Simply being a homosexual?

        • Jamie

          Here’s what I was taught the 1st amendment meant, and I still believe it:

          “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

    • Sue de Nim

      I don’t hate Nazis. I hate naziism, though. Maybe that’s the distinction you’re trying to make.

  • buckup

    No, I am not in favor of more rules that conflict with the First Amendment. What one person sees as bullying another sees has ones persons right to his opinion. More laws will not stop bullying. It’s not measurable, like blood alcohol. There have been bullies around since the beginning of time. And, there have been fat people, gay people, black people, handicapped people, ugly people & people of all religious backgrounds!! Nobody worried about bullying in the 60s & 70s. Why? Parents served up a big dose of benign neglect & kids solved their own problems & were independent!! Today’s parents are way too involved in micro managing every little injustice. It’s not until all parents teach their kids about bullies & take a step backwards will kids learn to deal with all types of people & live in harmony. Sometimes your kids will feel pain or be bullied. Your kid is not perfect & won’t be famous. That is part of growing up & learning to deal w/ life.

  • Jeff

    I have no problem with stronger bullying enforcement but I would caution against listing off politically correct “protected classes”. Kids are going to pick on each other for just about anything, when you list off protected classes then you are saying these people have more rights and will be punished (or protected) differently than a student who is not part of a protected class. I saw this up close and personal when I was in middle school…while going to my locker I walked by another student and accidentally brushed up against him…next thing I know I was punched in the face for no reason, he could have warned me or let me know something bothered him but instead just a direct punch to the face. I didn’t say anything and went on to my gym class…then the teacher asked me why eye was swelling up…I told the truth and explained what happened. Next thing I knew I was sent to the principal’s office; once again I told the truth about how the other kid flat out punched me for zero reason. The principal told me how this was a “sensitive issue” (due to the protected class status of the other student, yes the principal actually told me this) and if he punished the other kid I would also have to be punished, keep in mind I was a good student (in the gifted and talented program) and never had another incident in school before or after this moment. Of course, in the end no punishments were handed out and one student literally got to punch another student in the face (for zero reason) and got away with it due to the idea of “protected classes”.

    • Bill

      Maybe he thought you touched him because you were attracted to him. Straight men often have paranoid fanasies in the locker room about gay people being attracted to them for some reason, look at people’s outlandish fears about sports stars in the locker room. I think the anti-bullying legislation attempts to address such societal issues.

      • Jeff

        You completely missed the point of my comment, there is no need to specifically list out “protected classes” in an anti-bullying bill…the most common forms of bullying/teasing have to do with these “protected classes”. I’d be willing to bet that overweight kids, kids with glasses, kids that don’t understand something (called “dumb” for instance) are much more common than other types of bullying…yet none of those cases will be clearly laid out in the anti-bullying laws; which shows this is about trying to force a politically correct agenda into these bullying laws…this isn’t about protecting kids, it is about legislators feeling better about themselves.

        • Bill

          I see your point, thank you for clarifying. It’s hard to deny the inherent problems with enumerating protected classes. However, the obese and kids with glasses would fit the criteria of “disabled” and/or “physical appearance” just as shallowly as everything else is put into a checkbox on a form.
          I don’t think this legislation is less about special interest groups wanting to “feel better about themselves” and more about groups wanting kids to stop killing themselves.

        • Beth-Ann Bloom

          There are no protected classes in this law. It simply enumerates children whose needs are often overlooked in schools and reminds adminstrators that the efforts to support ALL students need to include ALL students.

          • Jeff

            By individually listing specific groups you are creating a “special class”, so when punishments are dealt out if one student is part of the “enumerated children” group then the non-enumerated student would HAVE to be punished…even if the incident was a 1 sided attacked on the non-enumerated student…I saw it myself when I was in school, that’s how it works when you are specifically listing out groups that NEED to be enumerated.

          • Beth-Ann Bloom

            Enumeration has nothing to do with punishment or assessing blame. The bill is also clear in stating prohibited conduct need not be based on any particular characteristic defined in this paragraph

          • jon

            It sounds like you were assaulted without any witnesses and the outcome of being assaulted without any witnesses is pretty much the same whether or not someone enumerated something on a document. Why your principal did not deal with an assault in a proper way is a mystery. How old were you when this assault took place? What state was it in?

          • Jeff

            There were witnesses…the principal didn’t bother to ask any of them what happened. It was just my word against his and that was the end of it. In fact, the principal didn’t even bother to ask either of us if there were witnesses.

          • jon

            That sounds like such an awful situation, I am sorry that happened to you. It sounds like your principal was incompetent.
            Some advice for those afraid of the ramifications of this bill if something like it were to pass: If you continue to harass or intimidate protected classes enumerated in this bill, do so quickly or in large numbers so the individual in the protected class will kill themselves BEFORE they start randomly punching people

          • Jeff

            Don’t assume that people concerned about the new bullying bill are concerned because they want to “intimidate protected classes” as you suggest. In fact, many people simply want equal treatment under the law, everyone gets the same protections not some specifically laid out groups getting more protections. Watch out when your child gets punched in the face by a protected class for no reason, they’ll both have to be punished with a new bullying law due to the protected class status of the other student.

          • jon

            Many people want equal treatment under the law, it is one of our most cherished Constitutional rights. Thankfully the Supreme Court of the United States is increasingly striking down portions of discriminatory law that infringe upon those basic rights, as we’ve seen recently. If these anti-bullying laws were to lead to my child being assaulted, I would find a lawyer, I don’t think assault is legal anywhere. You’re implying this is some sort of “stand your ground” law where a class of people favored by “law enforcement” (in your case this boneheaded principal for some reason) can get away with ASSAULT because of some sort of fear or intimidation. Is that really what this law is? I’m lost here.

          • Jeff

            This has nothing to do with “stand your ground” even bringing it into the discussion brings the conversation to a level where it doesn’t belong. I’m saying we need to end the idiotic policies in schools like state-wide “zero tolerance” policies that tie the hands of administrators. This anti-bullying law is part of that “zero tolerance” attitude, if a “protected class” is involved in an incident they are given more rights…they cannot be the only one punished even if they were at fault and they directly assaulted another student. As I said, I experienced just that, even the principal explained it to me that way…the other student was part of a group that had to be protected…therefore could assault non-protected classes at will. By listing out specific classes you’re saying that those groups have MORE protection than other students, thus giving them more rights when it comes down to an “incident”.

          • jon

            This anti-bullying legislation will grant an automatic punching license to those enumerated if and only if the punchee is a part of a non-enumerated class, got it.

          • Jeff

            You jest but at the same time you don’t even think about WHY the protected classes must be listed out in the law. If it doesn’t matter then leave the protected classes out…if you insist on listing out the names then you must believe it has an effect on dealing out punishment or providing extra protection. Which is it?

  • Bill

    I don’t see what the big fuss is about, children in schools have some of the least protected first amendment rights you can find, in many cases prisoners have more liberty. What’s the harm in having some guidelines to get rid of slurs and intimidation in our schools? You can’t have a freaking plastic knife in a school, what’s wrong with something like banning the word “fag”? The word fag probably kills more people than a plastic knife ever could. The answer is because then you will almost have to say “gay” to explain why it is wrong. Actually, the more I think about it, this anti-bullying thing is practically the same as all that “don’t say gay” paranoid nonsense proposals in the south after they were a-feared “gay” would be taught in schools, whatever that means…