As Concerns About School Safety Grow, Leahy Joins In Introducing Legislation To Address Bullying

In an effort to address bullying in American schools, Senator Patrick Leahy joined Senator Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and more than 30 other senators to introduce the Safe Schools Improvement Act.  Their bill is aimed at ensuring that no child is afraid to go to school for fear of unchecked bullying and harassment. 

Bullying is widespread and has adverse long terms consequences for children.  A Department of Education study found that 1 in 5 children between the ages of 12 and 18 will be affected by bullying.  Building upon the success of anti-bullying legislation in Vermont, the Safe Schools Improvement Act would require schools and districts that receive 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.  It will also ensure that schools focus on effective bullying prevention programs, both in school and online.

Leahy said:  “Every child has a right to feel safe and welcome at school.  Bullying and other forms of violence have no place in American classrooms.  This legislation will ensure that schools across the country are following Vermont’s example to take action and protect students from bullying, both in school and on the dark corners of the internet.”

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Cary Peters (D-Mich.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) are cosponsors of this legislation.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act is supported by numerous education, health, law enforcement and youth development organizations support SSIA, 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 and the Trevor Project.

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