I applaud the efforts now being made here in the State to stop bullying. Several incidences this past year have been covered extensively by the Des Moines Register and the local television channels. It has been made clear that these acts of meanness have led to physical and emotional harm as well as death. The public has now been properly conditioned to accept action by the legislature. This upcoming session should now be free to address the issue of bullying without repercussions from the electorate. No one will lose his or her job by enacting an anti-bullying statute. On the contrary those supporting such action will be able to return to their constituents with full satisfaction that they have done well and should be congratulated for dealing with the problem.
Progress is currently being made. An educator with whom I am familiar has indicated that the State is now requiring schools to report allegations of bullying. Those receiving this data will be creating a meanness index. This index will have two benefits: first, those children who are reported to have bullied will be identified. A meanness score will be given to each reported allegation and a total made at the end of each child's public education career (K-12). Legislative action may be required to make this information public and should be included in any proposed statute. Each child will be given a meanness indicator number identifying that child's propensity toward meanness. This meanness indicator should be made available to any future employer, landlord, potential neighbor (realtors), etc.; second, the data will be used to categorize schools as incubators of meanness where appropriate. This information will also be valuable to any parent thinking of open enrolling their children in another school district. It will give the State the ability to take corrective measures where appropriate. It might be feasible to create a special anti-bullying police force to be assigned to any school meeting the criteria of a bully incubator.
If parents are unable to inculcate kindness in their children, then the State must intervene and involve itself as it has done in so many other areas. Creating a new bullying crime is the path to follow. We must be very careful not to limit the crime to physical contact or a threat of immediate physical harm or offensive conduct--these acts are currently chargeable under the assault chapter of the Iowa Code. It must include all forms of internet communication. Stating on your facebook page that so-and-so is a weenie and eats dog poop and the next time you see him you will beat the crap out of him would not meet the necessary element of the immediate ability to do what you threaten to do, unless of course you are sitting next to him in the cafeteria. Kindness, respect, good manners must be required. The innumerable posters on the walls of every hallway of every school in the State have not had the desired effect. The legislature must act.