Idaho’s Anti-Bullying Measure Moves on To Senate

A measure that would strengthen Idaho’s existing anti-bullying law passed the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee on Wednesday with a vote of 5-4.

Among other things, the bill would require school districts and staff to intervene when a student is harassed or bullied.  The bill is sponsored by retiring Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, who points to Idaho’s high suicide rate as a major indicator that the current law needs to be made stronger.

The Times-News reports that the bill would, “define bullying and outline what responses school teachers and administrators are responsible for, and set up training for school employees.”

“Many parents and educators spoke in favor of the legislation, saying current district regulations aren’t enough,” reports the paper.

According to this year’s Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, out of 1,702  students in 48 public high schools in Idaho, 22.8 percent report being bullied or harassed on school property within the last year.

But the bill wasn’t without its critics nor was the hearing without its drama.

Many, including the ACLU of Idaho’s Monica Hopkins told the committee that they supported the bill’s intent but felt its language was to broad.

There was also a scolding from Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, who indicated to LeFavour that he was tired of “quarreling” over each point of the bill.

Former Boise teacher and author of the book Hey Back Off: Tips for stopping Teen Harassment, Jennie Withers, writes,”Fighting the current bullying epidemic must begin somewhere. The logical starting point is within school districts.  The fulcrum of any community is its schools. S1358 would provide Idaho’s educators the tools needed to take a knowledgeable, proactive approach to stopping harassment among our children.”

In the end, the committee voted to send S1358 back to the senate for amending before being heard by the full body.

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