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Sens. Warner and Kaine cosponsor bill to help prevent bullying in schools

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., as they walk to the Senate floor, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, at Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSET) -- U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have co-sponsored a bill to help prevent bullying in schools.

The Save Schools Improvement Act requires schools to take greater measures to prevent bullying and harassment following a Department of Education study with found that one in five children between the ages of 12 and 18 will be impacted by bullying.

"Every child deserves to learn free from fear of bullying and harassment," said the Senators. "We’re proud to introduce legislation that will help protect Virginia students from harm, and work toward ensuring that our schools make children feel safe and welcome."

They said research shows that bullying and harassment have adverse long-term consequences, including decreased concentration at school, increase school absences, self-esteem damage, and increased social anxiety.

According to a 2011 poll, 85-percent of Americans strongly support or somewhat support a federal law to require schools to enforce specific rules to prevent bullying.

As of 2018, 16 states and D.C. have enacted anti-bullying laws.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act:

  • Requires schools and districts receiving federal funding to specifically prohibit bullying and harassment, including conduct based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion.
  • Ensures that schools and school districts focus on effective prevention programs in order to better prevent and respond to incidents of bullying and harassment both in school and online.
  • Requires that states report data on incidents of bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.

This legislation is supported by the American Federation of Teachers, American School Health Association, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association of School Psychologists, National Down Syndrome Society, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, American Association of University Women, Asian American Justice Center, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Human Rights Campaign and the Trevor Project.

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