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Ebbin and Englin Introduce Anti-Bullying Bills in Va. House

by ARLnow.com | January 5, 2011 at 3:32 pm | 2,581 views | 67 Comments

Two local state legislators introduced twin bills today that would make bullying a crime and better equip public schools to protect bullying victims.

“Every child deserves to feel safe at school,” said Del. David Englin, a bill sponsor who represents parts of Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County. “A child who doesn’t feel safe can’t learn well and live up to his or her potential.”

Another bill sponsor, Del. Adam Ebbin, cited the suicide of a bullied York County, Va. teenager as evidence of why the legislation is necessary. According to Ebbin, who also represents parts of Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax, the York County sheriff’s office refused to investigate the teen’s bullies because there’s no law on the books outlawing bullying.

“This is outrageous, it must be changed,” Ebbin said. “No student in Virginia should be afraid to attend school.”

Del. Ebbin’s bill, HB 1576, deals with criminal and civil penalties for bullying. According to a press release, it would:

  • Make bullying a Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Give victims the right to sue bullies who are sanctioned or found guilty
  • Provide for expulsions
  • Require that bullying causing injury be reported to the Commonwealth’s Attorney

Del. Englin’s bill, HB 1575, is called the Anti-Bullying Responsibility Act. According to a press release, it would:

  • Add more specificity regarding bullying, harassment, and intimidation to the codes of student conduct required of local school divisions
  • Require schools to have appropriate procedures in place to separate victims from bullies
  • Change teacher training in bullying intervention from an optional to a required part of in-service training
  • Require that incidents of bullying, harassment, and intimidation be reported to division superintendents
  • Hold school administrators responsible for implementing anti-bullying procedures outlined in local policies
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  • http://blacknell.net/dynamic MB

    Hold school administrators responsible for implementing anti-bullying procedures outlined in local policies

    Most important part of all of that, I think. I’m not a big fan of (seemingly ever-expanding) criminalization, though.

    • Lou

      Yeah, not a big fan of creating a crime called bullying. Bullying laws usually become catch-all categories for things like harassment, assault, threats of violent acts etc., which are already enforceable and have decades of case law to fall back on.

      • mehoo

        They do? Where?

        • Thanks for the Laugh, Arlington

          Pretty much everywhere but specifically on college campuses they are used to stifle free speech. Here ya go, a research paper just for you:

          http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1400300

          Most acts of bullying already have laws on the books outlawing them, i.e. assault, extortion, heck it’s a felony in New Jersey to record and distribute someone’s sexual activies which is the exact “bullying” crime committed by the roommate of the now deceased Tyler Clementi.

  • alebt

    I will assume their intentions are honorable, however, I foresee a nightmare situation where accusations of bullying and the aforementioned procedures are used as bullying tactics by those in power. Enough legislating! Lead by example. Don’t engage in bullying. Don’t condone bullying. Leave educators some leeway in how they do their jobs. To me this just smacks of more reporting procedures which take educators away from their true job.

    • mehoo

      Sure, but the problem is that schools have routinely ignored this forever.

      I don’t mind giving them leeway to deal with it, and I don’t think there should be a criminal penalty, but educators need to be told to deal with it. And they need guidance on how to do it legally.

      • alebt

        My experience with the APS system with one child in elementary and middle school is that the topic is/has been covered extensively and done well over a period of now eight years. The school system is and has been dealing with the topic. They don’t need grandstanding by legislators who use a sensational case at the college level to pummel hundred’s of elementary school principals with more forms to fill out.

        • http://blacknell.net/dynamic MB

          APS isn’t all Virginia school systems, though. And Englin? Knows a teacher or two. Pretty well, I’m thinking. This wasn’t kneejerk grandstanding. At all.

          • Josh S

            You’re kidding, right? This proposal is pandering of the worst kind.

          • mehoo

            Why is it “pandering?”

        • mehoo

          Maybe in Arlington, but that’s just one school district.

        • Set the controls

          Hear. Hear.
          My two kids’ elementary school, one of the mellow and permissive ones, is choking on all the rules it has to deal with, not just those mandated by law, but on uncodified “boutique” rules that nannify every step of the kids’ school days. You bet they take complaints of bullying seriously, and if a law is enacted not only will we see fifth graders taken away in cuffs, but the school admin will overreach even more.

          • mehoo

            For example?

          • Set the controls

            On the playground, the kids are only allowed to ride their bikes on the perimeter loop in one direction, and they are not to stray from the paved loop. As of the new year, kids cannot go to the bathroom alone. As of last month, all the doors are locked and you must be buzzed in. No snowballs at all. As of the beginning of the school year, parents are not allowed to greet their children in the school at the end of the school day. None of these are reactions to incidents, and IMO aren’t preventive of anything.

    • BoredHouseWife

      Never assume a beurocrat’s intentions are honorable. they are politicians. They say it’s for our own good, but it always ends up screwing us in the end.

      • Justin Russo

        A “beurocrat” and a politician are not the same thing.

      • mehoo

        So all laws and rules and decisions by government screw you, huh?

  • JamesE

    Back in my day (15 years ago) we would just punch a bully in the face, but I suppose now that would get you expelled and or life in jail.

    • mehoo

      No you didn’t. Not all of you. Many victims don’t fight back. That’s why they are the victims.

      Is there anyone here who can talk about this like they aren’t still in high school?

      • JamesE

        At least 2 face punches were given in my high school days, don’t be such a bully and call me out !

  • ArlBlueSky

    When will the nanny state end?

    Somehow for hundreds of years we survived with bullying. Now we’re stuck with these knee-jerk politicians who make laws for everything in our lives.

    • mehoo

      Well, no, some didn’t survive.

      This is one of the goofiest arguments around, and therefore one of the most common.

      • Josh S

        Why is it a goofy argument? It’s not like air pollution or something like that. I don’t anyone would deny that bullying is a bad and regrettable thing. But how will making it against the law be a solution? I guarantee that almost EVERYONE has done something in their childhood at some time to someone that would / could be classified as bullying. So, we should all have criminal records? Although in practice it wouldn’t happen that way, would it? Who would get accused / prosecuted? I’m taking a wild guess here, but my prediction is that demographic analysis would show – poorer people versus richer people, boys versus girls, kids with worse grades versus kids with better grades, and kids who belong to any of the “less popular” cliques versus the “popular” kids. In other words, it would be yet another hurdle for disadvantaged youth to overcome in their journey through public schools.

        • mehoo

          I’m referring to the “we survived without X” argument. Do I have to explain why it’s goofy? These bills are in response to a suicide from bullying. No, we didn’t all survive. And we shouldn’t have to just survive, we can actually improve things.

          This “argument” could be applied to absolutely anything. Try it. It’s goofy.

          If you think we don’t need a law or the law wouldn’t work, that’s a different issue.

    • LVGuy

      Actually, some people don’t survive. That’s the point…

    • V Dizzle

      Is this a Palinism, or just a weak argument which doesn’t say a thing?

      • mehoo

        Both?

  • http://arlingtondirt.blogspot.com/ TGEoA

    Politicans are knee jerk douchebags

    • mehoo

      Yeah, bullying and suicide is no big deal. Thanks for your thoughtful contribution.

      • Josh S

        Nice try at logical reasoning. You’re criticizing the quality of someone else’s argument earlier in the thread and then come out with this inanity here? Doesn’t quite add up.

        • mehoo

          I presume your reply is aimed at TGEoA.

    • winner

      don’t forget that they are scum bags as well. I think we should make a law that says people who become polititans need to live by the same rules as the rest of us.

      • mehoo

        Um, they do.

        • idi amin dada

          Yeah, it’s only bankers who get a free pass.

          • mehoo

            Exactly!

  • Arlington, Northside

    Ending Bullying won’t happen with legislation, it happens with parents treating their kids right and teaching them to treat others right.

    The big problem is, who decides where the line between teasing and bullying is? Where is the line between two kids fighting over kid stuff, and one of those kids bulling the other?

    • http://blacknell.net/dynamic MB

      Ending Bullying won’t happen with legislation, it happens with parents treating their kids right and teaching them to treat others right.

      Ding. But since we all know that there are lots of incompetent parents out there, we can at least try to blunt the effects of it with a bit of work outside the home. That’s my hope, anyway.

      • Arlington, Northside

        Good teachers have been doing that since before Socrates set up his little after school tutor business.

  • V Dizzle

    HR 1577 – Virginia public schools shall settle all disputes, including bullying, in a Thumderdome. Two men (or women) enter. One man (or woman) leaves.

    • mehoo

      That’s pretty much how bullying works now.

      • V Dizzle

        You’re right, it’s genious!

        • mehoo

          Fighting fire with fire! It IS genius!

          Actually, you could just get all the bullies together in a cage match to fight each other. Last one still alive wins, and is then expelled.

          • V Dizzle

            This is like hockey, but without the boring part with the puck and skates. I second the motion.

  • Josh S

    Isn’t this a law destined to be found unconstitutional on due process grounds? How on earth do you legally define “bullying” in a way that is equally enforced statewide? It’s insane.
    As someone who has suffered bullying and now has a child in school concerned about bullying, I still think this proposal is absolute nonsense. What’s next, outlawing name calling? Making it a crime to stick your tongue out at someone? Class I misdemeanor for failure to say please and thank you? They are little kids, for god’s sake. It’s plain ignorant to expect them to behave all the time. I’m not saying no rules, no punishment. But that is what parents are for, the teachers and schools are free to set rules that result in detention, etc. But to make childhood misbehaving against the LAW? And even if it were made against the law, what effect would it have? Can kids understand that? Don’t bully, little Johnny, or else you’ll get a misdemeanor. Huh? How do you use the penal system on an eight year old? Fine him? Community service? It just makes no sense.

    • mehoo

      “How on earth do you legally define “bullying” in a way that is equally enforced statewide?”

      Good question. Perhaps you could actually read the bills and see if it looks reasonable. It looks about as precise to me as most statutes, but I’m no expert.

      • Josh S

        A Guide to Argumentation: Rhetorical question – a question used to make a point, not intended literally as a request for information.

        • mehoo

          But it’s not a rhetorical question. They will actually have to define it. This is a law that would exist in the real world.

        • V Dizzle

          What’s with that? Now I’m playing too!

  • Darwin

    We stopped letting teachers and parents smack their kids when they get out of line and now we need laws to control them, who would have guessed?

    • Darwin

      Oh course telling kids to toughen the “F” up would also be an appropriate response. How are they going to deal in the real world as an adult when some one is mean to them?

      • mehoo

        Don’t be a jerk.

      • Creation

        This from someone who runs to their building management after seeing a single insect in their apartment. Why don’t you toughen the ef up and just step on it rather than subject the whole building to being dosed with toxic chemicals.

        • Darwin

          Our management company asked us to report all insect sightings and water leaks no matter how minor, I’m just being a good tenant. I’ll be in Afghanistan with the Army in less than 30 days so don’t you dare tell me to toughen F up.

          • Creation

            Peeling potatos?

          • mehoo

            Why don’t you swing by a school and tell some kid who’s been been beaten and harassed to toughen the F up before you head over there? Right to his face.

          • Darwin

            I’m not trying to be a jerk but when parents and lawmakers try to take care of every conflict you end up with kids who become adults that hav no ability to deal with conflict. Obviously a kid who is physically assulted should be helped and current laws take care of that. These types of laws often try to criminalize name calling on MySpace which is crazy.

          • mehoo

            If you’re not trying to be a jerk, don’t be one. Telling victims to toughen up is being a complete jerk.

            This doesn’t take all conflict resolution away from kids. That’s absurd. It takes extreme cases, usually involving serious physical violence, away from them, as it should be. It isn’t just “name calling on MySpace.” This is stuff that leads to suicides by children. Don’t be so damn crass about it.

  • Thanks for the Laugh, Arlington

    Further over-criminalization. Englin lost my vote.

  • brif

    What does Englin’s bill actually criminalize?

    • mehoo

      Nothing.

      I guess Thanks for the Laugh is back on Englin’s team!

    • Thanks for the Laugh, Arlington

      It further criminalizes free speech.

  • The Pope of South Arlington

    “Every child deserves to feel safe at school,”

    Oh god, life sucks get a helmet! Pay no attention to the 20 IQ Turd-world larvae with flaming Tuberculosis and MS-13 tattoos sitting next to little joey in Home-Ec, he’s harmless.

    • The Dope of South Arlington

      That’s why they’re picking on little Joey, because he’s taking HomeEc.

    • mehoo

      You’ve got some serious anger issues, Dope. You need to move out of the slums to a nice quiet North Arlington place and have some nice soothing Starbucks chai latte.

      • The Pope of South Arlington

        Hows the diet goin baby? Spring is commin, if you wanna wrap yourself in a size 12 you gotta put in work!

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