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Indiana’s House approves a law against bullying



Indianapolis, Indiana – Legislators in Indiana are working on a measure that would oblige schools to look into all allegations of bullying and to inform the parents of the students involved.

In extreme circumstances, pupils may be moved to different schools under House Bill 1483.

State Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary), the bill’s creator, expressed concern over the soaring suicide rates among youths in the country.

“Students feel like there’s no way out,” Smith said.

Smith stated that after hearing from the youngsters he supports, he wants to tighten the state’s anti-bullying laws.

“They’re concerned about the lack of response when they share a situation,” Smith said. “And then when they decide to take it in their own hands, then they’re in trouble.”

Smith has long advocated a bill, and this year was the first time it was heard in committee. Schools would be required to look into all allegations of bullying.

Within three business days after the report, the parents of the suspected bully must be contacted, and within five business days, the parents of the victim.

The victim or the bully may be sent to another school within the district at the victim’s request if the report is serious and shown to be accurate.

That, according to Smith, would serve as a potent deterrent.

“If you do it, you’re going to get kicked out of school, you’re leaving your friends,” Smith said.

The Indiana State Teachers Association and the Indiana PTA both gave testimony in favor of the legislation before the committee.

Other school administrators claim they are also in favor.

“I think it’s important for parents to understand that they are part of the solution,” said Mike Johnson, director of school safety for Hamilton Southeastern Schools.

Johnson stated that he agrees with parts of the measure and that some of its standards are already met in his area. In addition to a student switching schools, he advises that legislators incorporate further remedies under the law.

“You may deal with schedules being adjusted, you may deal with just some counseling,” Johnson said.

“Sometimes it’s not as easy as just plugging them into another building,” he added. “Because now you have the whole issue of transportation.”

On Monday, the House voted 92-1 to pass the bill. It will now be considered by the Senate.