Lawmakers consider anti-bullying legislation

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – School systems across the state and country continue to take bullying more seriously. These days, there are so many ways for a student to be bullied like over the internet and even on their cell phone.

Several Northern Virginia lawmakers are pushing bullying as a major issue in this year's General Assembly.  One law would make extreme cases of bullying a crime that could lead to a year in jail.  The other would allow school administrators to act against bullying even when it doesn't happen on school grounds. Chesterfield County schools spokesperson Shawn Smith says that will help in situations like cyber-bullying.

"Cyber-bullying, the introductions of that is really still bullying, it's just introduced through a new medium," said Smith.

From lunch buddies at the elementary school level to mentoring programs in middle and high school, Smith says Chesterfield County has made anti-bullying education a top priority for years, but legislators can help streamline bullying prevention for schools across the state.

"Legislators are really hearing from their community, and it's not just in Chesterfield County, it's across Virginia and across the country, and what they want to do is put in place some real consistent goals as far as addressing and preventing bullying but in terms of clear consequences across the board," he said.

Henrico County fought bullying this fall during football season. Varina High School hosted an anti-bullying rally during a game where students admitted that bullying happens on many levels all the time.

"I've seen verbal bullying that's a big thing cause, words can really hurt someone more than physical bullying," said Jade Payne.

All month long, Chesterfield County schools will be ramping up anti-bullying messages to students. It is national bullying prevention month here in Virginia.

National statistics help showcase the need for action. The American Justice Department reports one out of every four kids is bullied, and one out of five admits to being a bully.

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