May 17, 2012
AUGUSTA – In a vote of 128 to 4, state lawmakers in the Maine House early this morning gave final passage to a measure that would protect students from bullying in Maine schools. The bill nearly passed into law in 2011 but was sent back to the Education Committee at the last minute in the face of opposition from the Christian Civic League.
“This is an incredible victory for Maine students,” said Rep. Terry Morrison, who sponsored the bill and has strongly advocated for it after hearing from hundreds of students and parents in his district. “We have sent a strong message to students and parents across Maine: Bullying in our schools is unacceptable and we won’t tolerate it.”
The bill, LD 1237, “An Act to Prohibit Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools,” requires the commissioner to develop a model policy to address bullying and cyberbullying for use in Maine schools. A copy of the model policy must be sent to each school administrative unit in the State and posted on the publicly accessible portion of the department's website along with any training and instructional materials related to the policy.
In 2010, there were at least 14 suicides resulting from bullying nationally.
“I’ve heard from students across the state about their personal stories, including one student who recounted a bullying incident where his peers sicced a dog on him after a school event,” said Morrison. “Leaders in our state must do everything we can to prevent these kinds of tragedies, from the State House to the playground. We can’t pretend this isn’t happening regularly in our schools.”
The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. 71 percent of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school, and 56 percent of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
The bill is expected to be approved in the Senate and must be signed into law by the governor.
Jodi Quintero [Morrison] 287-1488, c. 841-6279