TRENTON – Two state assemblywomen are planning to introduce a bi-partisan “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” next month.
The apparent suicide of a Rutgers student after footage of an intimate encounter between him and another male student was allegedly recorded secretly and broadcast on the internet by his roommate underscores the need for the legislation, the lawmakers say.
“The suicide of Tyler Clementi is heart-wrenching. Our prayers and deepest condolences go to his family, friends and everyone in the Rutgers community at this time of unspeakable tragedy,” Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth) said in a joint statement.
“Our nation is suffering an epidemic of bullying by students against other students. For the last six months, we have been working on a bipartisan legislation – the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights – which we will introduce in October. The bill would create a new and far more effective model for preventing and responding to school bullying than exists anywhere else in the country,” they said.
While 44 states, including New Jersey, have enacted anti-school bullying laws, the legislators believe that more needs to be done to fight the continuing problem.
“For the past six months, we have been working with leading education, anti-bullying and child welfare experts from across the country, as well as with Garden State Equality and the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention, to reform New Jersey’s school bullying law to set clearer and stronger deadlines and procedures for preventing, reporting and responding to school bullying,” they said.
The assemblywomen believe that their bill will “create a new national paradigm for anti-bullying reform” by using existing resources more wisely. They said that their proposal does not involve unfunded mandates or new costs for taxpayers.
“We can – and must – do better with the resources we have and, with that in mind, we believe our bill will get significant bipartisan support,” they said. “The education and lives of our students hang in the balance.”