RICHMOND – An effort to define bullying and ensure it is outlawed in public schools is on its way to the House floor for a vote.
Virginia already requires schools to prohibit bullying in their codes of student conduct and to educate students about bullying behavior. State code does not, however, define what constitutes bullying.
HB1871 by Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, would codify a definition and require school boards to expand their code of student conduct to ban bullying on school property, on school buses or at school-sponsored activities.
It also would require schools to allow students to unanimously report bullying incidents and require administrators to investigate and address those claims, such as by offering counseling for victims or behavior modification plans bullies. It prohibits bullying by students or staff.
The bill defines bullying as “any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma.” It also includes cyber bullying, such as on social media sites, and excludes ordinary teasing, horse play and arguments.
The House Education Committee approved the proposal, which delegates will likely vote on later this week.
- Kathy Adams, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot