INDIANAPOLIS — New legislation being proposed at the Statehouse would toughen Indiana’s anti-bullying laws, and a student who was bullied for years says it’s something that needs to happen now.
Paige Rawl was born HIV-positive, and was bullied for it all through middle school.
“I confided in my best friend that I was born HIV positive,” said Rawl. “Within a couple of weeks of telling her, people started calling me ‘PAIDS,’ which was the nickname that I had. I had a note on the locker saying no AIDS at the school, I just went through a lot of problems.”
Now about to graduate from high school, Paige Rawl says she thinks Indiana needs tougher laws.
“I really think that a law put in place would make people realize that this has become a serious issue,” Rawl said.
“These are issues out there that we really need to address right now,” said state Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, who authored House Bill 1423.
The bill would requires the Department of Education to develop guidelines for bullying prevention programs, investigation and reporting procedures, and discipline rules. The bill will be heard Monday morning by the House education committee, and anti-bullying advocates say it’s about time.
“There has been bullying legislation put before the Indiana legislature, in the House and Senate, for several years,” said Tracie Wells, from Bully Safe Indiana. “Last year, one bill was killed before it even hit the floor, because of politics.
“We don’t do enough in terms of prevention,” said Mindi Goodpaster of the Marion County Commission on Youth. “We don’t actually look at training teachers and administrators on how to teach kids that bullying is not acceptable.”
“I’ve heard several stories about teachers seeing someone being bullied, but they don’t want to get involved,” said Rawl, who travels the country these days to speak to teens about bullying.
“I just think they need to start taking a stand, and if there is that law out there then people will realize that this is something that is affecting our youth today, and something that is not okay,” she said.
Click here to read a copy of the bill being proposed in the House: