Bullying law needs revision

One of the issues sure to come up before the Minnesota Legislature is the state anti-bullying law. Minnesota’s current 32-word law is considered one of the weakest in the nation, and efforts were taken last session to pass a stronger version. It passed the House but not the Senate, and is sure to come up again.

State Rep. Glenn?Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) has been actively campaigning against the bill. In a column printed in this paper last week he described it as an “unfunded mandate” that won’t solve the bullying problem.

Despite his contention that all school districts have anti-bullying policies, there still is a bullying problem. Some school districts don’t enforce them very well. Some don’t recognize some forms of bullying as bullying. Some, so leery of getting caught up in the homosexuality/morality debate, ignore that issue all together. Some don’t think they can do anything much about cyber-bullying that takes place off-campus.

The state can certainly set some definitions as to what constitutes bullying and list some specific classifications of potential victims who need special protection, and demand accountability from school districts. We can strengthen the puny anti-bullying law that currently exists and still meet some of Rep. Gruenhagen’s objections that the proposed law overreaches.

It’s hard to know what advice to give kids who are victims of bullying. But they should at least be able to expect that if they complain to their school officials, something will be done.

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