Anti-bullying law can’t be worse than bullying

Minnesota has a new anti-bullying law, the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, passed over the objections of the Legisalture’s Republican caucus and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

It’s going to do terrible things to schools, say its critics. It will force schools to follow one policy instead of using their own judgment. It will allow kids to make anonymous reports of bullying. It will require schools to investigate reports of bullying. It allows schools to put these reports on a student’s permanent record. It will force schools to spend money on training teachers to recognize an deal with bullying, and assigning staff to investigate cases of bullying. It will hamper students’ rights to express their religious beliefs, and expose them to the idea that they should tolerate differences in others.

Compared to the torment some students have faced in the past from fellow students over their dress, their weight, their ethnicity, and their sexuality, torment that in many cases went unchecked and ignored by school officials, torment that sometimes led the victims to commit suicide, the anti-bullying law can’t be all that bad.

Minnesota’s old, 37-word-long bullying bill may have been enough for most districts, but it didn’t work for all. Let’s give it a chance.

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