As a parent, you’ve probably seen a story about bullying in the news just about every day. Although once seen as a minor issue that children just had to deal with, bullying is now viewed as a huge problem in our society. So huge, in fact, that STOMP Out Bullying, the leading national anti-bullying organization for kids and teens, has received support from numerous celebrities, including Katy Perry, Paul McCartney, and Ellen DeGeneres.
It’s not just parents and celebrities who are concerned with bullying, either. Due to an increased level of awareness around the issue, politicians have started to discuss bullying as well. Here’s how they’ve attempted to curb bullying so far:
State governments have been active in the creation anti-bullying laws for more than a decade now. In 1999, Georgia was the first state to pass a legislation concerning bullying. Since then, 41 states have created both a law and a policy in response to bullying. According to stopbullying.gov, only Montana has yet to pass an anti-bullying law or policy.
Although 49 of 50 states now have legislation concerning bullying, it doesn’t mean that one law is the same as another. Twelve states include a criminal sanction for violators of the law, but five states have no sanctions at all. Of all the states, New Jersey is considered by many to have the toughest anti-bullying laws. With this being a fluid situation, expect more updates and changes to these laws as the year progresses.
Surprisingly, the federal government has no laws that directly address bullying. Of course, that’s not to suggest that leadership at the national level hasn’t considered the topic at all. In March 2011, the White House held a conference on bullying prevention for the first time in history.
A year prior, U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania began his push for a piece of anti-bullying legislation at the federal level. Along with a number of co-sponsors, Senator Casey introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act, designed to aid in preventing bullying in schools. Although his law has not passed, Senator Casey continues to work to see that it does.
If this is a topic that you’d like to know more about, consider looking into your state’s anti-bullying laws. If you feel they are unsatisfactory and need to be strengthened, you have the option to write or email your representative. You too can help to end bullying, even if it’s just by speaking up.