Anti-bullying bill promising tough regulations moves forward

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INDIANAPOLIS – An anti-bullying bill received overwhelming support from a House committee after members heard testimony from bullying victims, educators and parents. House Bill 1423 will now move to the full House for a vote.

“I tried to commit suicide several times, once in front of my four year old brother. I did not know he was there,” said Chelsea Little, a high school student who said she was the victim of constant bullying.

“It started her seventh grade year, and it just escalated,” said Angie Stagge, Little’s mother.

Little and Stagge spoke at a hearing Monday in support of the bill that would set new standards for school systems across Indiana. If it becomes law, students would learn about bullying prevention every year and school staff would be trained on the school corporation’s anti-bullying program in place.

The school corporation would need to include the nature and number of incidents in an annual performance report.

“It’s an epidemic that isn’t silent anymore,” said Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, the author of the bill.

The bill would also require school corporations to set up detailed procedures for investigating and reporting bullying incidents that would then be followed up with support services for the victims and continued education for the bully.

“Does it have a long way to go? Absolutely. Am I optimistic about it? I have to be because it’s the right thing to do,” said Porter.

State education officials, counselors, teachers and parents also spoke up at the hearing in support of the legislation.

“For a while, before we moved, I didn’t know if I was going to walk in her room, and she was going to have herself hung,” said Stagge, about her daughter who she moved to another school.

“They didn’t know how to handle it, and if they tried, they said you can be isolated in one room and take classes in one room,” said Little.

The full House will vote on the bill next.