Friday, August 6, 2010


Congressman Danny K. Davis (IL-7) has introduced legislation amending the Safe & Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to include bullying and harassment prevention programs. Davis held a press conference at Frederick Douglass Academy High School to announce his initiative. With him were educators, police, psychiatrists, clergy, and other elected officials.
“Crime, violence, anti-social behavior and overall harassment of citizens by citizens is wreaking havoc in the lives of citizens throughout America,” Congressman Davis declared in explaining the reasons for his legislative initiative.
Specifically, the legislation is designed to provide assistance that state educational agencies will use to provide direction and help to schools in their efforts to prevent and appropriately respond to incidents of bullying and harassment, and describes how agencies should respond to deal with such actions.
The bill calls for annual notice to parents and students describing and defining the full range of prohibited conduct contained in the school discipline policies. Educators and police have complained that bullying and harassment lacked specific definition for action to be taken and there is also the need to include jurisdictional authority to allow schools and police to act.
The proposed legislation requires development and notification of complaint procedures for students and parents that seek to file charges regarding prohibited conduct contained in the discipline policies, including the names of school district officials who are designated as responsible for receiving such complaints and timelines to follow to resolve complaints.
Some of the authorized activities in this legislation are:
• Teaching students about the consequences of bullying and harassment.
• Institution of programs that address the causes of bullying and harassment, and training teachers, administrators, and counselors regarding strategies to prevent bullying and harassment, and to effectively intervene when incidents occur.
• The legislation provides an easy to understand definition of bullying, which includes conduct that is based on a student’s actual or perceived identity with regard to race, color, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or any other distinguishing characteristics which may be defined by a state or local educational agency, including cyber bullying.
• This conduct can be directed at one or more students.
• This conduct substantially interferes with educational opportunities or educational programs of students.
• This conduct adversely affects the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the school’s educational programs or activities by placing a student in reasonable fear of physical harm.
Bullying includes the repeated use of the Internet, cell phones, or other technology to send or post images or text designed to hurt or embarrass another person. This includes “sexting”, posting a threat or an embarrassing photo or video on a website or spreading a rumor about someone via text message or e-mail. It may include adopting a false identity online in order to trick, tease, harass, or spread rumors about another person.
The legislation also provides specific definitions for harassment so action can be taken to stop it and punish persons engaging in such conduct.
“It is hoped that passage and implementation of this legislation will help our nation get a better grip on this increase in and devastating impact of bullying, which often leads to violence and other kinds of anti-social behavior,” Davis stated.

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