U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today cosponsored bipartisan legislation to help schools end bullying and harassment and ensure no child is afraid to go to school for fear of unchecked bullying. The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require school districts across the country to develop and implement locally driven anti-bullying policies. A Department of Education study found that 1 in 3 children between the ages of 12 and 18 will be impacted by bullying, and research shows that bullying and harassment have adverse long-term consequences like decreased concentration at school, increased school absenteeism, damage to the victim’s self-esteem, and increased social anxiety.
“No student should ever wake up afraid of going to school in the morning because of fear of being bullied, but unfortunately that is the case for too many students in Michigan and across the country,” said Senator Peters. “The impacts of bullying on our children can last for years even beyond school, and I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation that will help schools confront bullying through a more comprehensive approach.”
The Safe Schools Improvement Act would:
- Require schools and districts receiving federal funding to specifically prohibit bullying and harassment, including conduct based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion.
- Ensure that schools and school districts focus on effective prevention programs in order to better prevent and respond to incidents of bullying and harassment both in school and online.
- Require that states report data on incidents of bullying and harassment to the Department of Education
The legislation has wide support from a number of advocacy groups, including: The American Federation of Teachers; American School Health Association; Learning Disabilities Association of America; National Association of School Psychologists; National Down Syndrome Society, National Education Association; National Parent Teacher Association; American Association of University Women; Asian American Justice Center; The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; Human Rights Campaign; Trevor Project; and National Council of La Raza.
Peters previously cosponsored similar legislation as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In February, Peters cosponsored the Student Non-discrimination Act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools and provides legal recourse to address bullying and discrimination of LGBT youth.