Legislation to ban bullies

We all know that bullying exists. Bullying has always been there, way back before humans even existed there were little creatures that were picked on by other bigger, stronger, and scarier creatures. Teen TV shows like 7th Heaven and Degrassi deal with this weighty issue, as do films such as the new classic Mean Girls, along with every Anthony Michael Hall film ever made. However, now there is a movement attempting to eradicate this negative part of human nature. At the end of the TV shows and films, the underdog usually wins. Lawmakers are starting to get in on the action and are trying to change fiction into reality. Iowa’s legislature is currently working on an “Anti-Bullying Bill.” This means that legislators are trying to pass a bill that will likely require the state board of education, as well as the county school boards, to develop a policy that would prohibit all kinds of bullying, including, but not limited to, verbal and physical harassment and intimidation at all school events. It would protect, or give “immunity,” to those who report the bullying. According to www.bullypolice.com, 27 of the 50 states have some sort of legislation that has been passed in an effort to eradicate bullying and protect those who have been bullied and each state’s law differs. According to www.nasbe.org (the National Association of State Boards of Education website), West Virginia’s policy aims to create a clear role for the schools in preventing bullying, whereas the “‘Michigan Model’ is an age-appropriate curriculum” that has specialized programs that targets each grade level according to their age from kindergarten through twelfth grade. No matter what style of anti-bullying law is passed, school districts would be responsible for providing information and programs to help prevent physical and verbal abuse. Historically, AHS has always had a very strong “anti-bullying policy,” a copy of which can be found in the student handbook in the school provided action planner. To reinforce the policy, the freshmen class has a seminar every year to promote kindness (seniors, think back to your first semester of high school). This fall, the freshmen class’s “anti-bullying seminar” took on a new form. A group from the ISU extension organized the seminar and had help from the Ames Mayor’s Youth Committee in executing it. They broke into small groups and played educational games to help students understand how they need to treat friends and people who they don’t even know. Along with the freshmen seminar, the administration has made other, more subtle, changes around the school. Some new faces are noticeable on walls around the high school. The administration has put up quite a few new posters to promote healthy friendships and behaviors while discouraging bullying, teasing and picking on others. Most students haven’t found these posters very effective. “No, [the posters] aren’t effective,” senior Chris Seeman said. “I mean, the only thing you can do if you are being bullied is punch them in the face; posters wont help with that.” However, the real question isn’t whether or not the posters are helpful but whether or not the student body feels that this law is necessary. “I don’t see anything wrong with it,” senior Paul Mayfield said. Junior Daniel Alexander, however, had an interesting insight. “I’ve seen people joking around but it’s hard to tell if it is bullying or not.” On the other hand, some believe that it isn’t the students who are the problem but the teachers. “The biggest bullies at Ames High are the teachers who go around giving referrals,” an anonymous junior said. Although the law is still young, it looks like the little guy might triumph over the bully with the new law. It’s time for the underdogs to win.