The second time was a charm Wednesday for bill aimed at curbing bullies in school, which passed the House Education Committee Wednesday.
Last week the measure was held in committee since some lawmakers were uncomfortable with some of the language that defined bullying in the bill, worried that the original proposal could result in harsh consequences for normal teasing.
"I listen to what you all said the last time and tried to address your concerns with the bill," said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, sponsor of the measure. "The bottom line is we want our kids to be in a safe environment at school and every parent should be able to expect that."
HB235 would require school districts to craft bullying and hazing policies or alter current policies to define terms and consequences for bullying.
During the 2006 Legislative session, lawmakers signed off on a resolution that encouraged schools and organizations to review and assist in the adoption of policies prohibiting bullying.
But Moss said the resolution didn't do much and the new measure would go further than just nudging school leaders take a stand against bullying.
Moss made changes with the substitute measure that mirrored the definition of bullying with the definition of hazing, taking out "cyber-bullying," and "embarrassing" a student as part of the definitions of bullying.
Many school districts already have bullying and hazing policies in place but the measure would set general parameters for a school's policy while leaving most of the details up the the local leaders.
And community leaders as well as students say its about time something like this is put into statute.
One high school student told the committee that she has seen bullying in the schools ranging from beatings, telling students to kill themselves to Saran-wrapping students to poles.
Jacob Short, representative for the Coalition for People with Disabilities, said special education students are also seen as easy targets since they have a hard time standing up for themselves."Ninety percent of the kids that we have talked to said they went home and at one time tried to kill themselves," Short told the committee. "Know that this is a real issue ... we just don't want to wait any longer for kids to be protected when they go to school."
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