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Porter anti-bullying amendment voted down in committee

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, yesterday filed an amendment to add language to House Bill 1005 requiring charter and voucher schools to adopt anti-bullying practices. The amendment was voted down in committee.

The proposal would have required state-funded charter and voucher schools to adopt the same reporting requirements of traditional K-12 public schools. Porter filed House Bill 1185 but it has yet to get a hearing in the Indiana House Education Committee.

“I've been fighting to combat bullying in our schools for years,” Porter said. “And as time goes on, we've seen technological advantages open up a whole new world of abuse, one that can't be escaped just by leaving school property. In 2020, our schools went virtual, drastically increasing the time each student has spent online. And with those developments comes more chances for cyberbullying.”

Studies have found that at least 20% - 1 out of every 5 - American students ages 12-18 report having experienced bullying, with at least 15% facing cyberbullying across digital platforms. The numbers in Indiana schools show similar results, with at least 18% of high school students experiencing bullying, although the state has historically faced struggles getting local schools to report bullying instances, an issue Porter has sought to address over multiple sessions at the Statehouse.

“We have a serious problem in Indiana when it comes to accountability in protecting our students,” Porter said. “We've struggled to get our public schools to report instances of bullying. But the charter schools our General Assembly is so eager to hand more and more money to are not even required to address it at all.

“This issue is especially prevalent to House Bill 1005, which purports specifically to help students with disabilities and students in the foster care system, who we know face bullying at even higher rates than their peers.  If we are unable to find time to pass this legislation on its own, it must be attached elsewhere. We cannot wait to take action.

“I cannot begin to imagine why most of my Republican colleagues on Ways and Means would oppose this amendment. They've sent a message to hurting students and parents across Indiana that it is somehow acceptable for certain schools to not have anti-bullying policies in place.

“I promise I will not stop fighting until every school in our state is safe for Hoosier students.”

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