Arizona legislators took the first step yesterday to outlaw bullying in schools, reports the Arizona Republic. One parent testified that a state law is needed to alert school officials and parents to problems that can lead to depression, acts of retaliatory violence, and even suicides.
Arizona is one of 31 states that does not have a specific anti-bullying law; nine are considering a change. The bill would require school districts to enact anti-harassment and bullying policies that allow students to report incidents confidentially, require school officials to report any incidents they see, require officials to investigate all reports of bullying, and discipline students who admit to or are found guilty of bullying.
Brenda High, an anti-bullying activist, said policies like these might have saved the life of her 13-year-old son, Jared. She said older boys began harassing her son every day during an after-school baseball program in 1998. One boy, who High said had a violent past, severely beat Jared for nearly 10 minutes in front of the other boys. Jared became depressed and took his own life. High has started a nationwide organization, Bullypolice.org.