The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 22, 2011

Anti-bullying legislation would protect victims

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

OKLAHOMA CITY — School administrators in Enid and Chisholm are glad for anti-bullying legislation that toughens up the school bullying prevention act.

The House Education Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved anti-bullying legislation written by Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, who said she was inspired by the May suicide of a young bullying victim in Perkins. It will go to the full House for consideration.

The bill cracks down on acts that can physically or emotionally harm a student, damage the student’s property or interfere with the operation of the school.

It also prohibits cyber bullying through e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging and other electronic communications.

The bill requires schools to provide consequences and remedial action to those who bully others.

Amber Fitzgerald, school and community relations director for Enid Public Schools, said while EPS already has strong anti-bullying policies, House Bill 1461 requires schools to be more proactive about anti-bullying policies and to communicate better with the public and parents. As such, it will have the effect of keeping students in Oklahoma safer, Fitzgerald said.

“I think it speaks to the importance of the issue, because there’s not anything that’s more important than the safety of the students,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald pointed to the bill’s provisions regarding bullying on social networking sites and electronic media.

“That is a growing method of communications,” Fitzgerald said.

Chisholm Public Schools Superintendent Roydon Tilley also greeted the bill with gladness. Chisholm has firm policies in place for bullying, but it’s a difficult issue for schools to address, Tilley said.

“I’m for anything that gives us the ability to deal with those kinds of situations a little bit better,” Tilley said.



The Associated Press contributed to this report.