Is there a need for ‘bully’ legislation?

Published 6:07 pm Saturday, June 27, 2009

As the School Violence Prevention Act awaits for Governor Bev Perdue’s signature, I ponder the need for the law itself.

On Tuesday, the bill passed by the skin of its teeth through the House of Representatives in a 58-57 vote. The first time the vote was taken it was dead heat and required a tie break from House Speaker Joe Hackney, whose vote went to the “ayes.”

The Senate passed the bill in May and so it is left in Perdue’s hands.

The School Violence Prevention Act aims to protect students from being bullied in school and lists specific groups thought to be targeted for harassment.

The intent of the bill seems to be in the best intentions, but when it boils down to the content of the bill—it’s somewhat weak.

Before I set myself up to get hate letters, calls and e-mails, I’m not arguing that bullying is not a problem. The last thing I want to see is a child hurt in any way, and let’s face it no one likes a bully. Everyone has been there; everyone knows how it feels to be picked on for being different.

And when there is a bully in a school it should be dealt with promptly and within that school’s policy and not by the government.

Here in lies my issue with this particular piece of legislation.

In the bill, the punishment and the procedures of reporting an act of bullying or harassment is left up to each school district.

However, each public school district around the state is mandated by the Department of Public Instruction to have a policy in place to deal with bullying.

It reminds me of an algebra problem, x cancels out x and we’re back at zero.

If our legislators were to go so far as introducing, discussing and voting on a bill such as this then they should have included some sort of punishment.

Deep down this type of legislation are knee-jerk reactions to the horrific school shootings that have occurred all across the country in recent years since the Columbine tragedy. Most reports indicate the school shooters were taunted, harassed and bullied by other students.

Another one of these crimes is something we all want to prevent from happening.

Where we need to begin is in our own school districts with those school officials. As we know there are policies already established, but are they implemented? Are school bullies held responsible for their acts?

Administrators need to nip the issue in the bud, as well as those students and teachers who witness it. Parents need to be involved too.

Bullying is an issue that can be dealt with in a school system.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.