An Indiana Senate panel has approved a bill to combat bullying. The Indianapolis Star says some lawmakers voiced concerns about whether bullying would be escalated to a crime, and whether school districts would face legal liability if they failed to protect children from threats or harassing behavior.
“Are we defining a new crime? Looks to me like we’re setting ourselves up for civil lawsuits to be filed,” said Sen. Luke Kenley, chairman of the Committee on Education and Career Development.
The bill would require Indiana’s 293 school districts to adopt rules prohibiting the behavior. Studies show that bullying is a type of aggression that, left unchecked, leads to more serious violence.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Suellen K. Reed read an message from a parent who said his 12-year-old son had battled depression linked to being picked on at school and committed suicide.
The bill may have a good chance of passage because it wouldn’t require new money. Indiana would join 17 other states with anti-bullying laws.