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Letter: It’s time to address bullying

Even though the identification and prevention of bullying should not be considered a political issue, it is an issue that must be addressed by the Minnesota Legislature. In this case it is identified as HF 826. The effect of bullying (physical and emotional) on a consistent and ongoing basis can have a negative effect on students, both at present and in the future. The fear of and being bullied makes it difficult to learn and enjoy an educational experience. Isn’t it about time this problem is addressed and put into law? I realize that this proposed law will add one more responsibility on school personnel.

The current law is only 37 words long. It is merely an outline of identification and prevention of bullying in our Minnesota schools. I may note that it is one of the weakest laws in the nation. The new proposed law would be very prescriptive in identifying and hopefully preventing bullying. HF 826, if enacted, would require school districts to:

* Define bullying as threats, intimidation and harassment that harms a student and interferes with their education.

* Require staff, students and school volunteers to receive training on bullying prevention and intervention.

* Create a specific procedure school leaders must follow when bullying is reported, including how data is collected about the incidents.

* Establish a “school climate center” at the Minnesota Department of Education that would serve as a resource for educators to interpret data about bullying and provide training experience to schools.

During the school years 2011-2012 there were 1,120 disciplinary actions out of 60,060 incidents reported. As a civilized society we should be concerned about our children’s welfare. We can begin to more adequately address the problem of bullying in our schools by passing HF 826 into law.

Richard A. Larson