Update 4:50 p.m.
The bill unanimously passed the House Education Committee on Monday and now moves to the full House.
Original post, 8:44 a.m.
The House Education Committee will consider legislation aimed at curbing the spread of bullying in schools Monday. Meanwhile, the bill’s author wants to get schools across Indiana on the same page.
Representative Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) says bullying has become an epidemic, with dropouts and absenteeism on the rise as a result. The author of anti-bullying legislation, Porter says one of the most important things his bill can do is create a definition.
“From one school corporation to another, sometimes it doesn’t mean the same. Sometimes it’s kind of subjective, so what we’re trying to do with this piece of legislation is try to put some uniformity or some teeth into the definition of bullying.”
The definition would now include cyber bullying and any actions or gestures that create a harmful school environment for a student. The bill also requires the state Department of Education and school safety specialists to develop guidelines for reporting bullying incidents and anti-bullying education programs. Porter says the state should include administrators, teachers, parents and students in the discussion.
“We can no longer just say, ‘Oh, kids will be kids’ or if there’s a noose in somebody’s locker, ‘Oh, that’s nothing.’ It doesn’t work like that anymore and we just need the people to be sensitized to when you see something of that magnitude.”
Porter says today’s committee hearing will include testimony from several community organizations and children who have been victims of bullying.