May 27, 2010, Atlanta, Ga ... Governor Sonny Perdue today signed into law an ADL-backed bill that provides Georgia schools with new tools for cracking down on bullying, including provisions that target the growing menace of cyber bullying.
S.B. 250 expands on previous state law, which covered just physical violence, to include "Any intentional written, verbal or physical act which a reasonable person would perceive as being intended to threaten, harass or intimidate." The bill was sponsored by Republican State Representative Mike Jacobs, but also attracted broad-based bipartisan support.
"We applaud Rep. Jacobs, the legislature and Governor Perdue for taking steps to create a safer learning environment for Georgia students," said Bill Nigut, Southeast Regional Director of ADL.
"As one of the leading providers of anti-bias diversity education training for schools, we are in contact with teachers and school administrators on a daily basis. And with few exceptions, all tell us that bullying to one degree or another is an issue in their individual schools," Nigut said.
ADL's No Place for Hate® initiative, which provides a framework for creating a culture of respect among students, teachers and administrators, has been adopted by more than 200 public, private and parochial schools in metro Atlanta.
Voting on the bill took place at about the same time that the suicide of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Massachusetts girl who had apparently been relentlessly bullied made national headlines.
Here in Georgia, many legislators said their concerns about school bullying came into sharper focus after seeing reports last year that 11-year-old boy Jaheem Herrera, a student at DeKalb County's Dunaire Elementary School killed himself because, his mother said, he had been the victim of repeated bullying at school.
The new Georgia law establishes guidelines for dealing with repeat offenders and calls on the state Department of Education to develop a model policy on bullying that will give schools additional support for dealing with the problem. Individual schools will be required to update their own bullying policies to comply with the law's new scope.