Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored legislation introduced by Senator Robert Casey (D-Pa.) to protect students from bullying and harassment in schools. The Safe Schools Improvement Act would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to require schools to establish anti-bullying and harassment policies for their students.
“Bullying harms students mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’m proud to support legislation that will place the safety of our students first by requiring schools to prevent and prohibit bullying. Nevada is home to students of many backgrounds; this legislation will ensure that all of Nevada’s students can learn in the safe and welcoming environment that they deserve.”
The U.S. Department of Education found that one in every five American students between the ages of 12 through 18 have been bullied. Bullying can occur in person or online. It comes in many forms: physical assault, verbal abuse, social exclusion, and offensive messages through social communications.
The consequences of bullying can be severe, including decreased concentration, damage to student’s self-esteem, increased absenteeism, and increased dropout rates. Schools with enumerated anti-bullying and harassment policies have an increased level of reporting and teacher intervention in incidents of bullying and harassment, thereby reducing the overall frequency and number of such incidents.
This legislation requires schools and districts receiving federal funding to specifically prohibit bullying and harassment, including conduct based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. It also ensures that schools and school districts focus on effective prevention programs in order to better prevent and respond to incidents of bullying and harassment both in school and online. States are required to report data on incidents of bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.