Gov. Quinn Signs Anti-Bullying Bill
Illinois' public schools will have to instate anti-bullying policies under a new law that Gov. Pat Quinn has signed.
The Chicago Democrat signed the bill Thursday at a Chicago elementary school.
He says the law will protect students inside and outside of the classroom. The law takes effect immediately.
It requires all public schools to create and implement an anti-bullying policy. School policies must detail a definition of bullying, procedures for reporting bullying and parental notification.
The policies should also include the investigation of reports of bullying and actions that may be taken to address it.
You'd expect bullies to grow up to get in trouble with the law.
But children who are consistently bullied also are more likely to run afoul of the law as adults, including being arrested and jailed.
Almost 14 percent of people who said they were bullied repeatedly in childhood and their teens had been in prison, compared to 6 percent of people who weren't bullied, according to a study.
Women who were repeatedly bullied before age 18 were more likely to use alcohol or drugs than men, and also more likely to be arrested and incarcerated.
"Males and females are different," says Michael Turner, an associate professor with the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who led the study. "Females tend to be a little more vulnerable."
Most violence research doesn't look at whether victims are more likely to become offenders, Turner says. He looked at data from 7,335 people who were between the ages of 12 and 16 in 1996. They were part of the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which followed them for 14 years.
Fifteen percent said they had been bullied repeatedly in childhood. Six percent said they were bullied after age 12. And 5 percent said they had been victimized both in childhood and in their teens. These chronic victims were the ones most apt to have substance abuse and criminal justice problems as young adults.
"The walkaway from this is being a victim regardless of the time is pretty strongly associated with subsequent legal problems," Turner told Shots. "But it was the chronic victims who experienced the highest odds of subsequent involvement in the system."
The survey didn't ask the participants if they were bullies themselves or measure the type of bullying they received. It was presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Honolulu.
Other research has found that people who were bullied as children are more likely to have psychiatric problems as adults.
Parents and pediatricians should look for signs that a child is bullied, Turner says, and make sure that children get prompt help in managing that adversity, rather than figuring things will get better with time.
"We have to catch them early," Turner says. "Victimization tends to peak in fifth, sixth, seventh grade. We have to intervene early in the life course and over a sustained period. "
Protecting gay, lesbian and transgender students at school was the topic of a forum that drew over 300 people to Parkland College in Champaign last night.
A panel of teachers, school administrators, counselors and students discussed the impact of anti-gay bullying, and efforts --- both successful and unsuccessful --- to deal with it.
Panelist and teacher Stacy Gross helped found the Gay-Straight Alliance student group at Champaign's Centennial High School. She says the group struggled to win official school recognition --- and that its first promotional flyers were quickly torn down by opponents.
"Ultimately though, GSA just wove itself into the fabric of our school", said Gross. "And it became a normally accepted club. Now our flyers stay up way too long and we have to really make an effort to take them down."
Gross says she was inspired to act after mentoring a student who faced anti-gay harassment at Centennial. She says she still often hears anti-gay remarks from students, and notices teachers allowing them to go unanswered.
"Kendall J", one of the students on the panel, says he's openly gay at his high school, and also the senior class president. Still, he says he and his boyfriend were physically attacked by other students when they attended prom together. Other students came to their defense. To this day, Kendall says "I still endure ridiculous judgments and hateful glances by those who don't approve of my 'chosen lifestyle'. And I still hear how 'that's gay' and that comment is 'no homo' or how that guy in the tight shirt is a faggot. All these are reasons to make school safer for everyone". (None of the students on the panel gave their full names or identified their schools).
Illinois Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch opened the discussion by calling on the audience of educators, students and parents to check up on what their schools do to keep students safe, whatever their sexual identity.
"Make a point to check whether your anti-bullying policies include protection for youth on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity", said Koch. Make a point to ensure that all faculty and staff are aware of the policies, and are trained on how to enforce them".
Last night's forum was sponsored by the East Central Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, part of a statewide Safe Schools Alliance which has held similar forums in Peoria and Bloomington-Normal.