Senator Bob Casey Introduces Safe Schools Improvement Act to Combat Bullying and Harassment

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U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act this week, aiming to provide a safer educational environment for K-12 students by prohibiting bullying and harassment. The bill, which mandates school districts to adopt specific codes of conduct against such behaviors, is also backed by Representative Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA-38) who has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The proposed act focuses on the prohibition of bullying and harassment on various grounds including race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and religion. “Bullying and harassment at school and on social media harm the mental and emotional health of far too many students,” said Senator Casey. “Every child deserves to go to school and learn without fear or intimidation. This commonsense legislation will ensure school districts across the country take proactive steps to combat bullying and keep kids safe.”

Congresswoman Sánchez echoed Senator Casey’s sentiments, emphasizing that destructive behavior like bullying should be taken seriously. She believes the bill will bring peace of mind to parents, teachers, school administrators, and staff, and make a significant difference to students across the country.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act requires schools and districts receiving federal funding to prohibit bullying and harassment explicitly. They must also provide annual notice to parents, students, and education professionals about prohibited conduct and procedures for reporting incidents of bullying or harassment. The act supports the implementation of prevention programs and policies with proven effectiveness to prevent and respond to bullying and harassment incidents both in school and online.

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Among the cosponsors of the bill are U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

More than 50 organizations, including the National PTA, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Library Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, the Human Rights Campaign, Unidos, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Unity Fund, support the bill.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act is designed to help schools address the widespread issue of bullying and harassment, which can impact a child’s physical and mental health and lead to poor academic, attendance, and graduation outcomes. The Act aims to promote a positive school climate where no child is afraid to attend school for fear of unchecked bullying and harassment.

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