US Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) used a sixth grade classroom as a backdrop to talk about bullying. Students, teachers and parents at Pittsburgh Mifflin preK-8 School have implemented an aggressive anti-bullying campaign, and Casey said he’s like to see such efforts at all schools. To that end, he has introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. A bill that will tackle bullying.
“It’s a problem in western Pennsylvania, it’s a problem in my home area of northeastern Pennsylvania, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia, wherever you go in the state, but actually wherever you go in America. It doesn’t really matter where you are, this is a problem for all of us,” said Casey.
The bill would tackle the issue in three ways. First, it would require schools to have a written prohibition on bullying, second it would include a prevention campaign, and third it would require record keeping.
“If we know that bullying is happening a lot in this school but not as much in this other school, there might be a reason for that. So we want to keep good records, so that when you have an incident so that you can track it and make sure the bully is held accountable,” said Casey.
The senator praised the efforts of Mifflin preK-8, which had anti-bullying signs in the hallways, and classrooms as part of a larger effort. But, Casey told the kids that even if his anti-bullying bill is passed, that, alone, won’t stop the problem.
“The main player on the field is you,” he said while standing before a group of 6th graders, “the work that you can do as individuals to talk to your friends, to talk about this issue and to say, ‘we should be doing this’ if you know someone who is involved and to try and convince them not to be engaged in bullying.”
Casey said bullying is not a new phenomenon but it has changed. Thanks to current technology like smart phones and social media, he said, it doesn’t end when the school day ends. The Safe School Improvement Act would not allocate new funds to schools, but Casey said it would allow for flexibility in current funding. The bi-partisan bill is awaiting a hearing in the Health, Education, Labor, Pensions (HELP) Committee, of which Casey is a member.