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Anti-Bullying Bill Ready for Gov. Quinn’s Signature

PHOTO: Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign a bill that clarifies policies on how schools in Illinois deal with incidents of bullying. Photo credit: Kevin Connors/morguefile.
PHOTO: Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign a bill that clarifies policies on how schools in Illinois deal with incidents of bullying. Photo credit: Kevin Connors/morguefile.
June 6, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois is taking steps to better address the problem of bullying in schools. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign a bill that clarifies policies on bullying and provides guidance to help schools better prevent and address incidents of bullying. According to Mitch Locine, spokesman for Equality Illinois, the state already has good policies on bullying, but some districts do not have a clear protocol for responding to incidents.

"This bill puts some meat on the bones," Locine said. "It creates a best model, practices and policies for the state and schools throughout Illinois."

He added that House Bill 5707 gives guidance to schools to better comply with existing law, specifies the types of communication school leaders need to have with parents when bullying is reported, and directs schools to compile and report data annually.

Besides negatively impacting a student's social and emotional well-being, experts say bullying can also be a significant barrier to learning.

Locine said state leaders have taken several steps in the past few years to improve safety in schools, and added that there's been a great deal of support for these types of measures.

"Illinois looks regularly at its anti-bullying positions and its policies" Locine said. "Every few years, we need to strengthen it and make sure the schools, the parents, and the teachers have the tools they need to not only fight bullying when it occurs, but to prevent it and to learn from it."

According to the ACLU, more than half of students in Illinois report being verbally harassed and one in four reports being physically harassed or assaulted at school.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL