Once Gov. Christie signs it into law, New Jersey’s “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” will make it tough for students to harass, bully or intimidate classmates, transforming a state saddled with an incident rate higher than the national average into the toughest anti-bully member of the Republic.
“This bill is about changing the culture that drives these incidents and ensuring that when they do occur, they are properly addressed,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).
Huttle was a driving force behind the measure, which passed both houses Monday in Trenton by a combined 101-1 tally, with
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, R-Morris, the sole “no” vote.
Experts estimate that 160,000 or so kids skip school each day out of fear from another student or students.
“What’s scary is that nowadays bullying is a lot more covert than the school yard fights that we were once accustomed to,” said state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty. “Kids can be tormented online, unbeknownst to adults, until it becomes unbearable. The sooner we can change this culture, the better it will be for our students and our education system.”
The measure makes school districts accountable for incidents and requires them to follow certain procedures to reduce the number.
VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE : Every day a student you probably know feels a sense of fear and emotional dread stepping foot inside an elementary or high school or even college building. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ASSEMBLYWOMAN’S STORY
Among other obligations, the bill requires that schools and districts — including colleges and universities — send annual reports on bullying instances directly to the Commissioner of Education. It also requires that the state grade each school on how it handles bullying, harassment and intimidation — and extends protections to off school grounds.
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