Gov. Christie this morning signed into law the bi-partisan “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights,” instantly transforming New Jersey from one of the nation’s weakest states to the strongest in curbing bullies.
Valerie Vainieri Huttle
“Today New Jersey is sending a powerful message to every child that school will be a safe place for them to learn and grow, not a place for them to dread,” said state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex). “There will always be adults who will want to look the other way when a child is bullied and say ‘kids will be kids,’ but now there will be other adults whose job it will be to put a stop to it.
“Today we can begin to change in earnest the culture of our youth to reject all forms of bullying,” Buono said.
“This bill is about changing the culture that drives these incidents and ensuring that when they do occur, they are properly addressed,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).
Huttle was a driving force behind the measure, which passed both houses in November by a combined 101-1 tally.
Experts estimate that 160,000 or so kids skip school each day out of fear from another student or students.
“What’s scary is that nowadays bullying is a lot more covert than the school yard fights that we were once accustomed to,” said state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty. “Kids can be tormented online, unbeknownst to adults, until it becomes unbearable. The sooner we can change this culture, the better it will be for our students and our education system.”
The measure makes school districts accountable for incidents and requires them to follow certain procedures to reduce the number.
VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE : Every day a student you probably know feels a sense of fear and emotional dread stepping foot inside an elementary or high school or even college building. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ASSEMBLYWOMAN’S STORY
Among other obligations, the bill requires that schools and districts — including colleges and universities — send annual reports on bullying instances directly to the Commissioner of Education. It also requires that the state grade each school on how it handles bullying, harassment and intimidation — and extends protections to off school grounds.
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