Contact: Senator Sylvia Larsen
CONCORD – Senators celebrated alongside children and parents today as Governor John Lynch signed into law a bill requiring schools to have strong policies against bullying and modernizing the law to cover cyberbullying.
“I co-sponsored the first law requiring schools to have policies against bullying, which became a model for other states. At that time, few people carried cell phones, texting was nonexistent and kids didn’t talk to each other over the Internet. It is an important update to this law that we recognize cyberbullying. Today’s bill signing also is an important re-statement of our commitment to safe learning environments for our children,” said Senate President Sylvia Larsen, (D-Concord) who was joined at the bill signing by Hopkinton students who are part of an anti-bullying group “Team for Tomorrow” at the Maple Street School.
House Bill 1523 updates existing state law that requires schools to have policies against bullying and adds a new definition for cyberbullying that addresses bullying through the use of electronic devices including but not limited to “telephones, cellular phones, computers, pagers, electronic mail, instant messaging, text messaging and web sites.”
The enhanced anti-bullying legislation also requires school districts to educate staff and volunteers so they can recognize and address bullying. The Department of Education will be available to assist local schools and will prepare an annual report of substantiated reports of bullying or cyberbullying for the legislature.
“It is the intent of House Bill 1523 to ensure that students feel both safe and secure and know that they will be protected in the event that they are bullied.” said Senator Molly Kelly (D-Keene), chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, who was active in developing the legislation.
The updated anti-bullying legislation grew out of the efforts of a committee that drew from the expertise of many parents, students, administrators, lawmakers, pediatricians, child advocates and student groups like Bully-Free New Hampshire.
“This was truly a collaborative effort,” Senator Amanda Merrill (D-Durham) said today. Vice-chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, she extended a special thank-you to all the young people who were brave enough to testify before lawmakers about their experiences being bullied and how that had affected their schooling.