Billboard to Oppose Anti-Bullying Law Change

Created: 02/19/2014 6:44 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Some new billboards will soon be going up around the state. They're targeting state lawmakers urging them to oppose the "Safe and Supportive Schools Act."

Soon a dozen of these billboards will popping up across the state including one down here in southeastern Minnesota. "A little bit provocative, maybe, but the goal is to get people's awareness," said Michele Lentz, State Coordinator of Child Protection League Action. Their group made the billboards to shut down the anti-bullying legislation. A question we’re hearing is, how can a bill aiming to stop bullying be a bad thing? Lentz says, "School districts in Minnesota are independent and this bill repeals all of those policies, whether they're working or not."

Those backing the bill say it's not meant to dictate, but to be used as a tool in how to handle to problem. "We've had plenty of experience in the state to know this is a statewide problem. It's not unique to any school and so I think there should be a statewide framework so that everybody doesn't have to reinvent the wheel and so that students and their families know then issue will be dealt with," said Representative Tina Liebling from the Rochester District.

The hope is that the bill will provide clear definitions of bullying, training for students and staff, and specific procedures for bullying incidents. "We really feel like the act will provide teachers, students, and parents with the resources they really need to provide bullying prevention and intervention in the schools," said Monica Meyer with OutFront Minnesota.

There is some language, however, that's concerning to even those who support it. "I have a minor issue with the bill that's out there, but not enough to not support it," said Rep. Liebling. That is whether or not parents should be notified of bullying incidents.

The bill states there is a "presumption" that a school will notify a parent, unless notifying the parent is not in the best interest of the student. "When parents are not notified, children are being harmed. If we are all talking about protecting children, then who better to protect those children than the parents," said Lentz.

Child Protection Lead Action will be holding town halls across the state. They'll be in Albert Lea February 25th.