State Battles School Bullies
New bill tries to stamp out bullies from New Jersey schools
Last week, New Jersey lawmakers passed a strict bill to make schools toughen up against bullies. Some call it the Antibullying Bill of Rights. If the state's governor signs the bill as expected, it will turn it into a law.
"Today, New Jersey's rate of bullying, according to a U.S. government report, is actually higher than the national average," says Steven Goldstein, who helped write the law. "The Antibullying Bill of Rights would give New Jersey the strongest, toughest antibullying law in the country."
The law says that staff at all public schools in the state must be trained to prevent (stop something before it begins) bullying. The program would show teachers and parents how to prevent, identify, and tackle bullying when they see it happen in school or at home.
Kids are an important part of bullying prevention too. Students of all ages and grades would be taught what steps to take if they are bullied, and how to stop other students from being bullies. They would also learn how to tell if their own actions are helping to hurt others.
Bullying is a big problem in the U.S. According to recent surveys, 32 percent of 12- to 18-year-olds report being bullied during the school year. Sixteen percent say they are bullied repeatedly and regularly.
But most kids who are bullied do not talk to adults about it. Of those who have, 80 percent say they were disappointed by the response they got. That's why the new law puts as much work into teaching teachers, parents, and school officials as it does students.
DEALING WITH BULLYING
What can you do to stop bullying? If someone at school bullies you, you have the right to walk away or to tell that person to leave you alone. If you see someone else being bullied, you can help him or her out by being kind or by talking to an adult about what you saw.
Tell an adult if you or a friend continues to be bullied. If one adult doesn't help you, find another who will. They can give you the help you need to change the situation.
Learn more about how to deal with bullying at "Stop Bullying Now!" a government Web site with tips and videos.