New School Year Marks First Day of New Law
Senator Diane Allen, co-prime sponsor of New Jersey’s landmark “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act”, said that the new school year commencing this week offers new hope that all school children will attend a safer, more tolerant learning environment:
“The implementation of New Jersey’s historic anti-bullying law begins today, and that means help and hope for every child who has been or would be the victim of bullying,” said Senator Allen. “Every year in New Jersey schools, thousands of children are humiliated, physically assaulted, and emotionally devastated by bullies. Some end up refusing to go to school because they can’t handle another day of pain, many carry the scars into adulthood, and a few are pushed to take their own lives. We owe it to the victims and their parents to make this law work.”
Allen said that the first year in which the law takes effect will be crucial to refining training and guidance provided to school personnel. “We have the toughest anti-bullying statute in the country now, and as with any law we will learn as it is implemented what we can do better for the children this law protects, their parents, and the school officials tasked with enforcement,” she said. “Especially with regard to the schools, I want to continue to work through the implementation process to make sure this law is a success.”
According to the latest report from the New Jersey Department of Education (2008-2009), New Jersey school districts reported 2, 846 incidents of bullying, intimidation, harassment, and/or threatening. Sadly, that count is far below the actual number of bullying incidents, as many have not been reported in the past. The new anti-bullying law is designed to change that reporting deficiency.
Allen said the law was particularly needed in the internet age, where these behaviors have become commonplace on the internet. “Technology exacerbates the problem, both in terms of the ease in which individuals can bully others and the ability to compound its effects on his or her target by reaching a wider audience,” she said. “We have to think beyond the bricks and mortar of a school when addressing this problem.”
The Senator said the next major milestone in the law’s implementation is the statewide “Week of Respect”, October 3 through October 7. The event is a major push to educate students on bullying and its effects on others.