We strongly encourage our local legislators to follow up on Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's call Wednesday for legislation to address bullying in our schools. Swanson wants the Legislature to enact a bill that is patterned after one passed earlier this year in North Dakota on a bipartisan basis.
The law would require each school to adopt an anti-bullying policy by Jan. 1, 2013, which requires bullying incidents to be reported and investigated. The law would require the policy to prohibit students from engaging in bullying or in reprisal or retaliation against bullying victims or those who report bullying; establish procedures for immediate reporting of alleged acts of bullying or bullying?related retaliation; establish procedures for schools to follow in investigating reports of alleged bullying or retaliation; establish disciplinary measures applicable to those who engage in bullying or bullying?related retaliation, including graduated consequences for such behavior; require law enforcement to be notified if an investigation results in a reasonable suspicion that a crime may have occurred; establish strategies to protect bullying victims; and establish bullying prevention programs for all K-12 students.
Each school district would also have to file an annual public report with the Attorney General's Office which identifies all material incidents of bullying.
Compared to North Dakota, Minnesota's current bullying law is lax, borderline shameful; it simply requires schools to adopt a written policy prohibiting bullying, without specifying any standards or reporting requirements, the Attorney General's office said.
Our bullying law has been given a C- grade by the national website www.bullypolice.org. It's the lowest ranking of any state, save the three that have no bullying law. It's a passing grade, but we shouldn't just be getting by on this subject. We need to ace it.
This is clearly one time our policymakers should step in when it comes to our schools. It's time to act, legislators. We know you sometimes don't get along and often disagree, but this must be one issue where you put party politics aside and do what is best for our schools and our children.