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Rep. O’Neill Supports Safe School Climate Bill

Posted on May 31, 2019 by admin


Concerned about an increase in bullying in our schools, State Rep. Arthur O’Neill (R-69) this week supported bi-partisan legislation to strengthen state anti-bullying law to include non-peer-to-peer interactions, and to expand the reporting requirements of school volunteers.

The legislation, HB-7215 – An Act Concerning Safe School Climate Policies – establishes an eight-member Social and Emotional Learning and School Climate Advisory Collaborative tasked with monitoring school climate improvement efforts in the state.  The bill also modifies the definition of bullying by eliminating the requirement that the action occur between students; and extends the bullying reporting requirements to include school volunteers.

“Bullying in any form is unacceptable and a severe detriment to the mental well-being of young people in our society,” Rep. O’Neill said. “We can argue the root causes, but the fact remains that children today are more stressed than in years past and bullying, whether in person or online, increases those stressors and can lead to dramatic, deadly results.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for children and adults between the ages of 10 and 24.

Rep. O’Neill stressed that children do not have a monopoly on bullying and adults must also work toward eliminating bullying from their behavioral repertoires.

“Strengthening these laws is a good start, but bullying will only be truly eliminated through increased education, understanding and empathy,” Rep. O’Neill said. “Inclusion is important for both children and adults, so if you see something say something; if you hear something, say something. While we strive for a school climate that supports the development of the whole child, we should strive for communities that support the development of the whole person, regardless of their age.”

The bill awaits action in the State Senate. The legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday, June 5.