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Missouri Parents Push for National Anti-Bullying Law

December 14, 2011

ST. LOUIS - Some Missourians are helping to build support for national anti-bullying legislation which defines specific categories of at-risk students.

The law needs to recognize that there are some students at higher risk of being bullied, based on their sexuality, religion or disability, says Jill Aul, of the St. Charles chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-Flag). An enhanced anti-bullying law, she says, would not only protect those students but help keep them in school.

"One out of 10 students who drop out of high school in America say that they did it because of repeated bullying and harassment. Having a law like this and providing training to schools to enact it and enforce it is only going to have positive ramifications all over our country, in every area."

Anti-bullying legislation generally falls under the Department of Education, which some Republican lawmakers are looking to eliminate. Opponents of the bills also say defining categories does not provide equal protection for all students.

Aul says identifying specific areas in which youth are at higher risk of harassment should help schools better protect and educate every child.

"Research is extensive, all over the place, that LGBT students are picked on and experience harassment and bullying and violence so much more than the general student population. It's not giving them special rights; it's giving them equal rights. "

Fewer than a dozen states define categories in their anti-bullying laws, Aul says, including New York and North Carolina. Missouri has unsuccessfully tried several times to pass such a bill.

The federal legislation is HB 1648 and SB 506.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO