Bill to fight bullying back before Senate

(Published Jan. 30, 2007, 11:38 a.m.)

State Sen. Neal Kedzie of Elkhorn will reintroduce a bill to help schools address bullying, according to a news release from his office.

"I am convinced that bullying today is more severe than ever before and that some school districts may need assistance in adequately addressing this issue - it is time for the Legislature to provide that assistance," Kedzie, a Republican, was quoted as saying.

The previous bill did pass the State Senate last year with broad bi-partisan support, but did not advance in the State Assembly.

If enacted, the new proposal will assist school districts in dealing with the bullying issue without imposing costly mandates. Additionally, it will require the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to develop a model school policy addressing bullying, as well as a model education and awareness program.

Each school district will then have the choice of adopting the DPI model or creating one locally. A Bullying Awareness Day would also be established on the fourth Wednesday in September, which school districts may choose to observe.

"I remain committed to advancing this important public policy change for the good of Wisconsin school children and their parents," said Kedzie. "School should be a place where children can learn and grow without being intimidated, harassed or harmed by their classmates."

Kedzie believes the current proposal maintains local control of policies related to bullying and offers options for school districts to consider when adopting those policies. The issue of bullying came to the forefront of public awareness when a Milwaukee television station aired a news story showing physical violence on playgrounds of elementary schools in southeastern Wisconsin.

In addition, more than 50 percent of 600 Wisconsin school teachers and counselors surveyed said their school was not doing an adequate job of preventing bullying. Kedzie says a statewide model would help in those districts and provide guidance to both faculty and parents.


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