Hatfield passes anti-bullying legislation with bipartisan support
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House members passed legislation authored by Representative Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville) that would provide Hoosiers with additional tools to prevent and stop bullying and harassment.
“This bill stemmed from an experience a family from my district endured,” Hatfield said. “A young man experienced continuous bullying for months. His family talked to the other child’s parents, school authorities, and even brought him to court, but nothing was done. This bill would allow students who are dealing with bullying and their parents to go before a judge and plead their case of harassment and the need for an order of protection.”
Under current law, in order to register for an order of protection, a person must be a victim of domestic or family violence, stalking, or a sex offense. House Bill 1607 would add harassment to that list, and the violation of an order of protection for harassment would result in a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
In addition, an interim study committee would research prevention measures for bullying and cyber bullying; criminal and civil protections against bullying; bullying in an educational environment; and the role that schools, teachers, and parents play when bullying occurs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 22 percent of public schools report bullying at least once a week. 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied on school property in 2017. Out of the 20 percent of students bullied, about 7 percent attempted to commit suicide.
“Bullying takes place on a regular basis in places where students should feel safe,” Hatfield said. “This legislation adds an important and tangible tool to victims of bullying and to prevent bullying in the future. Let this bill serve as a reminder to those who are being bullied or harassed and feeling hopeless, that there are people out there who want to make this stop.”