As Rodgers and Hammerstein expressed in their 1949 musical South Pacific, bullying and discrimination are linked together, start at an early age, and can be a “learned” activity influenced by family members. Altering our NJ school environment is an essential step.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) and Senator Barbara Buono (D-18) will introduce on Monday the eagerly anticipated harrassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) awareness and prevention legislation. It is expected that it will have bipartisan support, including Assemblywoman Pat Angelini (R-11), and Senators Diane Allen (R-7) and Thomas Goodwin (R-14).
Their bill is squarely aimed at the school environment where discrimination and bullying often begin. It will provide that training on HIB be a part of the training required for public school teaching staff members in suicide prevention. It will create a fund for state grants to school districts. It will include sections on enforcement and response to HIB and on accountability of schools, districts and the state. It will also require the addition of an anti-bullying policy and enforcement mechanism to the student code of conduct of every public college and university. A link to the full bill will be posted in this diary as soon as it is introduced in the legislature.
On Friday President Obama released his video It Gets Better. In it he says “When I was a young adult, I faced the jokes and taunting that too many of our youth face today, and I considered suicide as a way out. One of my co-workers recognized that I was hurting. She cared enough to push me to seek help.” This NJ bill will be a critical step in preventing and providing support for so many people who, like President Obama, know the pain and trauma bullying can cause. Kudos to Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Barbara Buono and all who helped shape the bill. We wish it a successful and speedy trip on the way to enactment.