Bullying bill provides better handbook for Delaware schools [video]

(via Bigstock Photo)

(via Bigstock Photo)

There’s a new law that’s supposed to bring a common sense approach to handling bullying in the state especially in schools.

It’s called Senate Bill 207. It’s designed to improve the state’s response to bullying incidents and help parents better deal with bullying instead of getting the attorney general or police involved.

According to Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, (D) Wilmington East, lawmakers continue to take bullying seriously.

“You’ve heard about some horrific cases where kids have committed suicide because they were bullied and so our goal is to really start work at the school level to try to stop it,” Sen. Henry said.

In fact, the subject is nothing new to Sen. Henry.

“First of all, bullying has been something I have been interested in for many years. In my previous employment, I worked for Delaware Technical Community College and I found that a lot of college students were experiencing bullying, so it’s not just an elementary or high school phenomenon – there’s even work place bullying,” Henry added.

Henry, one of the sponsors of SB 207 calls it a better handbook for educators with multiple layers.

“It creates something called an ombudsman, and that’s something like a unique position and it’s an advocate for people who are bullied and their parents. So it tells them their rights, it makes sure that the rights of the parents and the children are protected and it also helps the school to make sure that they are doing the right thing too because there’s someone else looking at things,” Henry said.

Right now schools are required to report to police almost any student fight, whether it’s a minor scuffle  or something more serious. However, SB 207 would give parents and schools more flexibility and the opportunity to not report less serious fights to the police. Too often less serious fights or misdemeanor assaults are reported to police that could ultimately be handled by school administrators or parents said Henry.

Senate Bill 207 passed both the House and Senate. It’s expected to be signed by Gov. Jack Markell this summer. Attorney General Matt Denn also supports the bill.

Tune into First at 5:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. for the full story and to hear from a Hockessin mother who weighed in on the issue of bullying after her 13-year-old daughter was physically assaulted by peers.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.