Sen. Bob Casey today announced he's introducing a bill to address bullying in schools, requiring school districts that receive federal funds to establish and enforce an anti-bullying code of conduct, and to collect data on bullying to be submitted to the feds and made available to the public. A new twist this year -- this type of legislation has been proposed before -- would be to expand the definition of bullying beyond what happens on school property to include cyberspace harassment on Facebook or other means.
Allowing bullying is "the ultimate betrayal of a child," Casey said in a conference call with reporters, joined by co-sponsor Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. "They should go to school with a reasonable expectation they should be safe and when they’re not safe it’s our fault, across the country."
Casey said the bill was inspired by the legion of media reports about severe bullying -- in some cases leading to suicides -- particularly against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students or students with special needs.
Stacy Skalsi of the National Association of School Psychologists, who also joined in the conference call, said the bill is "a teriffic first step to really help schools to bring greater attention to this issue."
Casey said the bill had 18 co-sponsors thus far but he wasn't going to offer a prediction on when and how it can pass.