State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

House mulls anti-bullying policies

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 26, 2013 8:01 AM
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State House lawmakers are struggling to find a way to help schools deal with bullying among school-age children.

At a House Education Committee hearing Thursday, Rep. Dan Truitt (R-Chester) said he's not sure schools are taking bullying seriously, given the way they're responding to existing state mandates.

"Our current state law requires school districts to report incidents of bullying to the state just in terms of the numbers, how many incidents they had," said Truitt. "And a number of them, about 200 school districts, report none at all."

Truitt has proposed legislation to require districts to develop more comprehensive plans to respond to cases of bullying.

A number of educators said they're uneasy about implementing such policies without the state setting down clear guidelines, but when asked how best to define bullying so as to prevent selective enforcement or encroaching on free speech, many testifiers were at a loss for a clear answer.

One advocate from a group representing parents of children with disabilities said bullying should be defined by what "hurts and harms."

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