Surrounded by parents, advocates and legislators in the state Capitol, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., sounded the call to bring an end to bullying in Pennsylvania schools and communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 20 percent of students were bullied on school property in Pennsylvania, while more than 14 percent of students experienced cyberbullying. The CDC also learned that close to 16 percent of young people seriously considered attempting suicide, while nearly 3 percent of students who attempted suicide were either injured or overdosed and needed medical treatment.
“Whether face-to-face or online, bullying can happen anywhere and any child can fall victim,” Kinsey said. “Whether we are a parent, guardian or teacher, we must become more aware of bullying and how to prevent such incidents from spiraling out of control and ending in tragedy.”
One father said he hopes he never has to deal with his children becoming victims of bullying.
"Even the best parents who practice the worst case scenario with their children cannot fully prepare for bullying,” said Jeff Templeton, executive director of S.P.E.A.K (Staying Positive Equals Amazing Kids). “Bullying is a public health problem that can no longer be ignored. It is an outbreak of erratic behavior with life changing consequences.”
To help remedy this, Kinsey’s legislation, H.B. 2009 would require bullying education to be taught in schools on all grade levels in Pennsylvania. He said by providing age-appropriate bullying prevention and intervention programs in schools, it would enable the commonwealth to move closer to eliminating bullying as a public health threat.
“Dealing with classes and extracurricular activities can be stressful enough on a child. They should not have to face tormenting behavior by one of their classmates as well,” Kinsey said. “Empowering our students with the tools to not tolerate or become a bully could improve the quality of our schools by enhancing safer, healthier learning environments.”
An annual school safety report conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education found more than 2,100 incidents of bullying were reported during the 2016-17 academic year.