By Whitney Morreau
ATHENS, Georgia — When schools cease to be a safe place for our children to learn, and become settings permitting fear, humiliation and violence, we must take a stand. Nationally, one out of four children is bullied. Consequences of bullying in school include disruptions in learning, absenteeism, physical illness, violence and psychological harm. We must refuse to accept bullying as “just a part of life” and start protecting our children more effectively.
In 1999, Georgia was the first state to enact anti-bullying legislation. This was an important start, but the work is not over. The current statute’s definition of bullying does not include psychological harassment. It also fails to take cyber-bullying into consideration. The Internet has made the potential for bullying virtually limitless. Additionally, Georgia’s anti-bullying statute protects only students in grades six through 12, and also requires a bully to have committed and offense for the third time in a school year before becoming subject to enforcement.
New anti-bullying legislation was presented to the Georgia Senate in 2008, but failed to make it to a full vote on the House floor. Encourage your state politicians to make anti-bullying legislation a priority in 2010. Changes must be made before more children are hurt. See the story.