From Senator Rich Taylor

Written by Theresa Rose on April 3, 2015

BIPARTISAN SENATE SUPPORTS SAFE SCHOOLS FOR STUDENTS

Every Iowa student deserves a safe learning environment. A recent poll showed that Iowans strongly support anti-bullying measures, with 73 percent of Iowans in favor.

To improve the learning environment for all Iowa students, the Senate has approved Senate File 345, a bill to prevent bullying in our schools. It passed with bipartisan support, 43-7.

Ongoing harassment and bullying can devastate children, endanger their mental and physical health, and leave scars that last into adulthood. To reduce bullying, we must change social norms. It must become “uncool” to bully, “cool” to help students who are bullied, and normal for staff and students to notice when a child is bullied or left out.

In 2007, the Iowa Legislature approved legislation to require school districts to adopt safe school policies to guard against harassment and bullying. Unfortunately, there is still too much of it going on.

The 2014 Iowa Youth Survey polled more than 77,000 students, with 39 percent reporting they were bullied at school at least once in the last 30 days by other students calling them names, making fun of them or teasing in a hurtful way. This is down slightly from 2012, when 41 percent reported being bullied. The percentage of students who said they’d made a suicide plan within the past 12 months went from 7 percent in 2012 to 8 percent in 2014.

We must do more to create safe schools, including teacher training, parent involvement and enforcing anti-bullying policies. The passage of Senate File 345 will give schools the tools they need by:

• Broadening the definition of cyber-bullying.

• Authorizing schools to address off-campus conduct.

• Promoting more parental involvement.

• Establishing a work group to make sure Iowa has the best available research and input to create safe learning environments.

• Requiring school districts to have adequate training to investigate harassment and bullying.

• Establishing a pilot program to explore how student leadership can help prevent bullying and violence and promote best practices for middle and high school students.

We need safe schools so that all students, regardless of their background, can achieve their full potential. I’m hopeful that SF 345 will receive support in the Iowa House.

UPCOMING PUBLIC FORUMS

• Friday, April 17, 12 noon: Fort Madison at the Palm’s Supper Club

• Saturday, April 18, 8:30 a.m.: Fairfield at the Best Western Hotel

• Saturday, April 18, 10 a.m.: Washington Economic Development Legislative Forum at the Washington County Courthouse

• Friday, April 24, 12 noon: Keokuk at the Hawkeye Steak House

• Saturday, April 25, 8:30 a.m.: Mount Pleasant at the IWC Library

Additional information

This is a legislative update from Senator Rich Taylor, representing Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/taylor.

To contact Senator Taylor during session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at home at 319-931-1568. E-mail him at rich.taylor@legis.iowa.gov.

Senator Taylor is chair of the Local Government Committee. He also serves on the Economic Growth, Human Resources, Judiciary, and Justice Systems Budget committees.