Iowa lawmakers push for "anti-bullying bill" - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Iowa lawmakers push for "anti-bullying bill"

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The bill will be looked at further in both chambers. The bill will be looked at further in both chambers.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Bullying is an issue that school districts, teachers, and students across the country have been trying to tackle for years and now Iowa legislators are trying to make a significant change.

Back in 2007, the Iowa legislature introduced a bullying bill. State Representatives said the law defined what a student could not be bullied for like race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

But, the law left out bullying that happens outside of school, like cyber bullying.

A new "anti-bullying bill" addresses that and more.

"We can't be the ones who are going to find the silver bullet. Legislation is not going to put an end to bullying," Democratic Representative Chris Hall said.

Hall said the goal of the new "anti-bullying bill" in the Iowa House is to make people aware of the problem and do what they can to prevent bullying inside and outside the classroom. There are three pieces to the proposed legislation.

"One is a training piece, to make sure that school administrators and teachers are adequately trained on what bullying is, how to recognize it, and how to investigate it when there is an incident of bullying," Republican Representative Ron Jorgensen said.

State reps said the second piece requires school districts to notify parents when there are incidents of bullying, which some say is a key part of making a change.

"I think that parents need to be involved earlier in the process. I think they need to be engaged and aware of what is happening to their child, whether their child is being bullied or bullying somebody else," Hall said.

And, bullying can happen beyond the school hallways. Students have felt the impacts on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The bill addresses these issue as well.

"It allows the school district to investigate bullying that might happen off the school property," Jorgensen said.

"It's time to look at how all bullying is not acceptable," Republican Representative Chuck Soderberg said.

Retired West High School guidance counselor Carolyn Goodwin agrees. She voiced her concerns in front of local state reps Saturday. She said the provisions included in the "anti-bullying bill" are a step in the right direction.

"I appreciate that the legislature is addressing it and working to fund training for teachers as well as in the schools themselves," Goodwin said.

Lawmakers said the Senate is working on a similar bill. They hope the two chambers can find common ground to pass a new law within the next month.

Governor Branstad has also pushed for this sort of legislation and hosted a bullying prevention summit the past two years.

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