Arlington, VA

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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