Should state toughen anti-bullying laws after Belleville?


BY RICKEENA J. RICHARDS
News-Democrat
Illinois requires all school districts to have bullying policies, and it leaves the details of that policy up to local school boards.

But the Illinois State Board of Education is looking at addressing the lack of specifics with new legislation.

“The board has expressed in the past that they will likely seek legislation clarifying what needs to be in those bullying policies to give them more teeth, more specifics,” said Mary Fergus, a state board spokeswoman.

Also, a recent review by The Associated Press across the country shows that anti-bullying measures rarely have identified children who excessively pick on their peers. And few offer any method for ensuring the policies are enforced, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The issue of bullying has come to the forefront locally after two Belleville West High School students attacked a fellow student on a school bus Monday, drawing national attention. Police have called the incident a case of bullying.

Belleville West Principal Bob Dahm said statewide specifics for how schools should deal with bullying could complicate things by making policies more difficult to manage, and there is more of a need for a clear definition of what constitutes bullying among the local community. Full story.

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