As a parent, I have a responsibility to do all that I can to protect my children. When I sponsored the state’s first anti-bullying law in 2002, I did so for the same reason. It is the most basic duty that I share with parents across the state of New Jersey.
And when the opportunity arose to act once again in 2010, I sponsored the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, a law that transcends party lines and brought Democrats and Republicans together for the sake of our children. The physical and emotional well-being of New Jersey’s young people depends on that sort of progress.
Ensuring the welfare of our kids is not a choice. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, obscenity, child abuse, and a whole host of other dangers to our young people, no one is looking the other way. Cases of harassment, intimidation, and bullying in our schools should be no different.
The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights is more than just words; it is a promise to every child in the state of New Jersey. It is a declaration that we will not condone harassment, nor will we be bystanders in the presence of intimidation. For so many schoolchildren across the state, it is a lifeline.
The bipartisan enactment of this law was symbolic: right knows no party or ideology. The fact of the matter is that, for a student who fears going to class each day due to harassment or the possibility of physical harm, party labels have no significance.
The state of New Jersey has set an example for generations to come in its commitment to stand up for justice and equality for all people. And if there is any single legacy for which our Legislature may be remembered, I would hope it would be its adherence to these principles.
Educating our kids means giving them all the tools they need to succeed, from simple things like pens and notebooks to the more complicated peace of mind that comes with knowing that every adult in the state of New Jersey stands with them against bullying. We owed it to these children to deliver.
State Sen. Barbara Buono
18th Legislative District
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