Leahy joins more than 30 Democrat co-sponsors in introducing anti-bullying legislation


Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has joined U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and nearly 30 other senators to introduce the the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2018.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has joined with Democratic senators from around the country to address bullying in the nation’s schools, and to build upon anti-bullying approaches in Vermont.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate last week with more than 30 Democrat co-sponsors, would require schools that receive federal funding to prohibit bullying and harassment, including conduct based on a student’s “actual or perceived” race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion, among other categories.

S.2572, in building upon Vermont’s anti-bullying legislation, aims to make sure that unchecked bullying and harassment is being addressed head-on in schools and online, according to a release sent by Leahy’s office.

A study by the Department of Education shows that one in five children between the ages of 12 and 18 will be affected by bullying at some point.

Bernice Garnett, chair of the Vermont Harassment, Hazing, and Bullying Prevention Advisory Council — a group set up by the Vermont Secretary of Education in 2012 —  said that Vermont’s policies on harassment are exemplary in many ways.

“There’s a gap of what the policies are and what’s implemented in schools potentially, but Vermont policy is quite strong in explicitly naming that bullying and hazing are not acceptable,” she said.

About the kinds of consequences students should face, Garnett said suspensions and expulsions are not effective in changing behavior, and discipline should not be “zero tolerance” or even “disproportionate” on certain demographic groups of students.

“Exclusionary discipline disproportionately affects students of color and students of disability,” she said. “I do not believe in zero tolerance policies, and I do not think they’re effective in being a deterrent for bullying behavior or other behaviors.”

Jim Avery, principal of Otter Valley Union High School in Brandon, Vt., said the school follows specific protocols and processes where bullying and harassment are investigated, and administrators appropriately respond to reported bullying incidents.

“We are a ‘PBIS’ school — positive behavioral interventions and supports. We’re also looking at ways in which we are promoting the positive behaviors that we look for in our students,” Avery said.

He thinks this approach, which involves making presentations to students, is a positive way to decrease bullying.

“[We seek] anything we can add to support how we respond and how we do things within our schools to promote positive behaviors,” he said. “So, having individuals come in and present positive character development, that’s really great.”

Avery added that reports on bullying against a person’s race or gender is considered harassment and is followed by a different disciplinary procedure.

“Race and gender would fall into the harassment category. If we’re talking about race, we have other protocols that we follow,” he said.

Briana Bocelli is a freelance writer for True North Reports. She lives in the Northeast Kingdom and is a senior at Castleton University.

Image courtesy of Senate.gov

5 thoughts on “Leahy joins more than 30 Democrat co-sponsors in introducing anti-bullying legislation

  1. The real bully is the big public education monopoly, they force kids to attend union staffed schools even when it’s harmful to the child. Union jobs, more important than children.

  2. How about this. If we allow those who are bullied, like back when I was in High School, to kick the snot out of the bully and thus end the problem without ending up in the court system like my son was for doing it, we solve the problem.

  3. Interesting when Bush was in office with Dick Cheny, Leahy confronted Cheny about Halliburton. Cheny told Leahy to F off. Leahy, all he could do is smile nervously and actually shut up. He needs to be confronted always.

    Leahy had his mug and Senate position giving support to the failed ski mountains corruption of Jay Peak and Burke MT in which foreign investors lost $500K for accessibility to the US. Google it. One fine hard working Senator that needs term limits and retire back to Middlesex.

  4. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has joined with Democratic senators from around the country
    to address “Bullying ” in the nation’s schools, what about working on the real problems
    there is a list a mile long !!

    Why not just tell the Little snowflakes to put on there Big boy pants or Big girl skirts, Oh wait
    you probably can’t say that either it may offend them, they are very sensitive ………..

    The real world is a vicoius place, if you ” namby pamby ” them they are never going to
    make it !!

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