The accidental killing of a schoolgirl by the alleged victim of a bully has led to the Georgia House’s approving a tougher anti-bullying law. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says the bill passed 118-52, despite the objections of some lawmakers who said it might make schools vulnerable to lawsuits.
The measure would expand state law to cover elementary schools as well as middle and high schools. It would allow parents and students to make anonymous tips to schools and would require that all reports of bullying be investigated. The legislation expands the definition of bullying to “any pattern of written or verbal expression or any physical act or gesture that is intended to ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or cause measurable physical or emotional distress upon one or more students in the school, on school grounds, in school vehicles, at designated school bus stops, or at school activities or sanctioned events.”
The bill was prompted by last summer’s death of high school freshman Bianca Walton in Columbus, Ga. She was killed as she walked her younger sister home from school. Police accused a 14-year-old boy of opening fire on another teen who had previously bullied him and was picking a fight. “We have a situation where two children . . . should be in school today,” Rep. Carolyn Hugley said. “One is in the cemetery, and the other is in the [custody of the] Department of Juvenile Justice.”