Indiana Senate passes anti-bullying bill

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A bill to help schools address bullying likely is now on its way to Gov. Mike Pence.

House Bill 1423 was passed Wednesday by the Senate on a vote of 36-14. Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, the House author of the bill said he will concur with changes made in the Senate.

If the House — which earlier approved the bill 77-17 — agrees, that clears the way for the measure to go to Pence for his consideration.

“From my perspective, other than the budget, this will be one of the top five bills that comes out of here that affect a lot of individuals in our state,” Porter said.

Some of those individuals — particularly mothers and their children — came to the Statehouse to tell lawmakers of their struggles with bullying that began in school but continued at home via social media on smart phones and computers.

Last week, Danielle Green, a West Lafayette mother, told the Senate Education Committee of her daughter’s suicide on March 5, and the note the 14-year-old Angelina had left saying that that was the way to end the pain of bullying.

Wednesday, Sen. Pete Miller, the Avon Republican who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said a 2005 anti-bullying law on Indiana’s books had a vague definition of bullying and did not adress cyberbullying.

HB 1423, he said, makes it clear that mere teasing or schoolyard fights are not bullying. Instead, the bill defines bullying as overt repeated acts or gestures that create a hostile school environment and places the student in reasonable fear of harm and substantially interferes with his or her education.

The bill, which applies only to traditional public schools, requires training for teachers in identifying bullying and lays out provisions for anonymous reporting of bullying and timetables for reporting incidents to parents, school officials, and, if laws have been broken, law enforcement. Schools can develop their own policies in how to comply, with the Department of Education to develop a model policy.

according to indystar.com

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