FRANKFORT – A bill intended to add a clear definition to state law books of what constitutes bullying passed in the state House of Representatives on Thursday.
House Bill 316, sponsored by Rep. Rita Smart, D- Richmond, would define bullying as “any unwanted verbal, physical, or social behavior among students that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and is repeated or has the potential to be repeated” if it occurs at school, on school busses, at school-sponsored events, or disrupts the educational process in some other way.
“To vote against this bill would be a travesty,” said Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, during the discussion of the bill on the House floor. “This bill is for the good of the whole, for our most prized possession: our children.”
Rep. Regina Bunch, R-Williamsburg, who served on the Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force in 2015, stressed the importance of passing HB 316.
“As a teacher of special needs students for over 20 years, I have witnessed what the detriment of bully can cause students,” said Bunch. “We need to be swift, we need to be just in our attention to this and we cannot be complacent.”
HB 316 passed the House by a vote of 94-1 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.