With the start of the new school year still several weeks, Gov. Pat Quinn has passed a new law updating the state’s anti-bullying stand for schools.
On June 27, Quinn signed Senate bill 3266 into law, which expands the definition of bullying, requires gang prevention training in Illinois schools, and also creates a School Bullying Prevention Task Force to examine the causes of bullying.
According to the new law, every school district and private school will now be required to develop and maintain a policy on bullying. The policy must be updated every two years.
Locally, Princeton High School Superintendent Kirk Haring said the anti-bullying policy has been required by the state since 2007, but PHS has had a policy for several years. The new law does add the gang prevention component, which will now be implemented at PHS. The law is geared toward educating students, so the gang prevention component will be done during the school day, he said.
Telephone calls to area private schools were not returned by press time to the Bureau County Republican.
On Monday, Miss Bureau County Fair Queen Jordan Diehl said bullying, especially verbal bullying, can be a problem in any school.
Twenty-year-old Diehl is a graduate of Geneseo High School where she was involved in a peer mediation group which addressed student issues and concerns like bullying. The group put on various programs for the student body, but the group’s outreach didn’t stop there, Diehl said.
“What we tried to do was to lead by example,” Diehl said. “For instance, if someone was being bullied, we made a point of being nice to them and making them feel included. We did our best to make it cool to be nice to people who were being bullied.”
Diehl said she didn’t remember bullying being excessive at her high school.
Concerning the new anti-bullying law, Diehl said she’s sure it’s a good thing to have the necessary policies in place in schools, but the students themselves also have to take leadership and responsibility in preventing bullying in their schools.
According to the governor’s press release, the new law states no student shall be subjected to bullying during any school-sponsored education program/activity or while in school, on school property, on school buses or other school vehicles, at designated school bus stops waiting for the school bus, or at school-sponsored or school-sanctioned events or activities.
The new law also states students shall not be bullied through the transmission of information from a school computer, a school computer network, or other similar electronic school equipment.
According to the press release, bullying takes various forms, including harassment, threats, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, theft, public humiliation, destruction of property, or retaliation for asserting or alleging an act of bullying.
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.