- February 26, 2013
Post submitted by Minnesota state Senator D. Scott Dibble, guest contributor
I am proud to announce the introduction of the Minnesota Safe and Supportive Schools Act.
We have waited too long to address bullying that occurs in schools across our state. Quite honestly, we had already waited too long when a 2010 survey conducted by the state Departments of Health and Education revealed that 13 percent of students reported being bullied once or more a week. Young people in every corner of Minnesota suffer from feelings of hopelessness and despair. We must act to ensure that every kid who goes to school in Minnesota knows that they are valued, that they will be safe, that they are loved, and that they have an equal shot in life.
The Safe and Supportive Schools Act would replace the nation’s weakest anti-bullying law with comprehensive measures designed to put an end to bullying in Minnesota once and for all. This means providing clear definitions of bullying, harassment, and intimidation; providing training and resources for students, staff, and volunteers; and putting forward specific procedures for schools to report bullying incidents. It will no longer be acceptable turn our backs.
Thankfully, we have a Governor that understands this problem and the need for a stronger solution than what is currently in place. Governor Dayton’s Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying has put forward comprehensive recommendations, which forms the template for the Safe and Supportive Schools Act I’m introducing today. Without his leadership, I’m not sure we’d be able to make today’s announcement—with such bright prospects for passage in just a few weeks’ time. A great and broad based coalition has formed, including many members of HRC, and local partners such as Outfront Minnesota—who leads this work. They are poised to push for a positive vote.
Over these past few years I’ve been deeply moved by the courage shown by the young people who were willing to step forward and tell their stories of pain and marginalization. I’ve felt the frustration of parents and teachers wanting to help—but lacking resources and support—were powerless. Too many tragedies and so much lost opportunity can give way to real solutions for our amazing young people.
All students deserve the right to an educational environment that is free from bullying and harassment. The time is now to create a future where our young people can thrive and succeed.