Rally for anti-bullying bill draws hundreds to Capitol

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Hundreds of people rallied at the Capitol Monday (March 3) to urge lawmakers to pass the “Safe and Supportive Schools Act” — also known as the anti-bullying bill.

Chief author of the bill, Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), says things are going well this year. A similar measure failed to pass in 2013. Dibble says this year’s version of the bill has some small “tweaks” and defines things better.

“I’m interested in a bill that functions well so that young people can be safe and protected in their schools and I think we’re getting a really good bill together.”

The School Board Association has not been supportive of the anti-bullying bill. Dibble didn’t say if the tweaks he’s made to the bill means they will support it. However, he says that some school organizations that were not in favor of the bill may support it now.

Dibble said that after the rally, many of the young people who attended were planning on visiting lawmakers face-to-face “to tell their stories about what the reality and the truth is in their lives and why they need a change so they can be safe from bullying in their schools, so they don’t have to make that choice on a daily basis: ‘Do I be safe today, or do I go to school?’”

In a press release, Dibble described why the legislation is needed:

“Over 11 percent of all kids are bullied weekly; over 30 percent (say) they’re viewed as different. The 37 words we have on the (law) books right now don’t accomplish anything to protect our kids. Children deserve to feel safe in school and, if they are bullied, we need to make sure it stops.

“The Safe and Supportive Schools Act clearly defines bullying, ensures protections for youngsters, gives teachers and administrators the tools and the ability to address bullying — especially prevention measures. When a school’s climate changes, the kids who felt targeted and isolated will now be supported, and benefit tremendously. With protections and better practices, all kids will be feeling better, doing better and our schools will become an even better place to be for everyone.