State Rep. Kathy Kennedy Op-Ed: Working to Make Schools Safer

Posted on September 6, 2019 by jdooley


Working to Make Schools Safer

By State Rep. Kathy Kennedy

To better address bullying in schools across the state, I strongly supported a bi-partisan proposal that works to evaluate, improve and strengthen bullying laws this past legislative session.

The legislation, (PA 19-166), An Act Concerning Safe School Climate Policies includes establishes an 33-member Social and Emotional Learning and School Climate Advisory Collaborative tasked with, monitoring school climate improvement efforts in the state; additionally the bill modifies the definition of bullying by, among other things, eliminating the requirement that the action occur between students;  and extends the bullying reporting requirements that apply to school employees to also apply to school volunteers.

When an opening appeared on the new Social and Emotional Learning and School Climate Advisory Collaborative, I asked House Republican Leader Themis Klarides to sit on the Task Force. I hope to add a constructive voice to the group to insure a safe school environment for all students.

The goal of the new law was to not hand down another unfunded mandate on local school districts but to instead work to foster a voluntary and unpaid collaborative.

The new law was born out of a recent tragic case of bullying which led to an 11 year old girl to take her own life in Cheshire.

In today’s world bullying on social media is very prevalent due to the ease one can type a cruel message to someone. Bullying on social media is just as harmful as other bullying — and sometimes it’s even worse. That’s because it’s hard to get away from and it can reach people no matter where they are or what they’re doing.

I, like most reasonable people, agree that bullying of any kind, by children or by adults is unacceptable and needs to be discouraged. We need to make sure Connecticut is doing everything they can be to prevent this behavior and get at the root cause of bullying. Finding best-practices for schools and what strategies work and don’t work to curb bullying will only improve the overall school climate.

The collaborative will collect information concerning the school climate improvement efforts of local and regional boards of education, identify best practices for promoting positive school climates, develop an assessment for screening students in grades three to twelve and perform other functions concerning social and emotional learning and fostering positive school climates.

As always, if you have questions about this issue or any other concern about our state government, please contact me by phone 1- (800) 842-1423 or email Kathy.Kennedy@housegop.ct.gov.