|Posted:||August 19, 2019 12:29 PM|
|From:||Representative Frank Burns|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Creating the Pennsylvania Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights|
Bullying is a pervasive scourge that not only goes underreported, but often unaddressed in a meaningful way. Students fear retaliation for reporting bullying and parents too often feel that their complaints fall on deaf ears.
Only five incidents of bullying were reported during the 2017-18 school year among all Cambria County school districts, according to the most recent data available from the Department of Education. It’s ludicrous to believe that more than 16,000 students across a dozen school districts only encountered five acts of bullying.
Bullying disrupts students’ ability to learn and when it isn’t properly addressed, the verbal taunts and online postings can escalate to physical assaults or, in the worst cases, suicide. For this reason, we need to hold students, parents and officials at all levels accountable for remedying and preventing bullying.
Please join me in sponsoring this vital package of legislation to help make Pennsylvania schools safer for all students.
Introduced as HB1936
Proposal #1: Parental Accountability for Bullying
My first bill would require all parents to be notified of bullying incidents and hold them accountable for repeated bullying by their child through fines or community service.
The bill would establish a three-tiered system for parental accountability and participation when a child repeatedly bullies others. Upon the first verified bullying incident, all parents would be notified of the incident and the actions taken by school officials to correct the situation. The second time a child bullies, the bullying child’s parents would be required to take a parental class on bullying and would be invited to a bullying resolution conference in order to develop a plan that lays out what the student, parents and school will do to prevent further incidents. If a child bullies three or more times within the same school year, the school would file a citation against the parents in district court. Potential penalties could include a fine of up to $750 and/or community service.
Introduced as HB1935
Proposal #2: Pennsylvania Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights
My second bill would establish that: Students have a right to learn in a safe space and communicate electronically without harassment. Parents have a right to know if their child is involved in bullying and receive regular updates about investigations. And schools have a right to develop strong anti-bullying policies and require students and parents to play an active role in eliminating bullying within their school.
The bill would build on the success of the Safe2Say anonymous violence and threat reporting program implemented in schools statewide last year to ensure bullying is tracked, investigated and reported in real time. Bullying incidents would be tracked by schools and reported monthly to the Department of Education, which would post monthly bullying reports online. Incident data would be tallied at the end of each year to include annual statistics in the publicly available Safe Schools Reports already posted on the department’s website.