The Idaho House passed an anti-bullying measure Monday after some impassioned pleas from several lawmakers -- who talked about the experiences of their own children.
This is the latest of several attempts in recent years to pass bills aimed at strengthening Idaho’s anti-bullying laws. Some conservative lawmakers have been skeptical the issue can be regulated at the state level and worry they might be opening schools up to lawsuits.
But Republican Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa said parents need to know schools will deal with harassment. She told fellow lawmakers a boy used to punch her daughter in high school and throw her to the ground. Perry said she got no help from school administrators.
“And so we finally, in an act of desperation, told her older brother to go to the school, find the kid who’s doing this to her and beat him up,” Perry said. “What a terrible thing to have had to have done. And it’s because we couldn’t get help anywhere else.”
Republican Rep. Caroline Troy of Genesee said her youngest daughter had also been bullied and urged lawmakers to pass the bill.
“What I’ve learned is that bullying lasts a lifetime,” she said.
But Rep. Ronald Nate of Rexburg worried that the expectation that schools intervene could lead administrators to go too far in punishing kids they think are bullies.
“There doesn’t seem to be enough protections in this bill for the accused,” Nate said. “There’s no provisions to notify the parents of the accused bully. There doesn’t seem to be due-process protections for the investigation for finding out the truth of the matter.”
Other lawmakers felt bullying policies should be decided at the district level.
Under the House bill, teachers would receive training and be expected to intervene. And, school districts would have to establish a point-person for reports of bullying.
It now heads to the Idaho Senate.