Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright introduced the Bullying Redress and Verified Enforcement (BRAVE) Act, legislation that would address bullying behavior within schools.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 3 students say they have been bullied at school. Moreover, 1 out of 10 students who drops out of school does so because of repeated bullying.
“Bullying can have destructive consequences on our children and their education,” Rep. Cartwright said. “As a parent and a Member of Congress, I believe we must take steps to create a school environment that prevents bullying and where our children can feel safe.”
In 2014, Robin Zotynia of Plainfield Township lost her 14-year-old daughter to suicide as a result of incessant bullying at school. An eighth-grader at Wind Gap Middle School at the time, Courtney had her first experience with bullying in sixth grade. The family tried to get Courtney help, putting her in different programs and sending her to several psychiatrists. But her mom said she wasn’t getting what she needed.
Currently, bullying laws exist in all fifty states, including Pennsylvania, but these laws provide varying levels of protection.
The bill requires school personnel to report instances of bullying in order to increase their awareness of the problem and oversight in schools. Requiring districts to keep accurate records may make it easier for students to demonstrate that the district has a policy or custom of allowing bullying to occur, facilitating litigation and enabling students to pressure the school district for equal protection in the courts. If schools fail to comply, the bill establishes a procedure to submit complaints to the Office of Civil Rights for the Department of Education, allowing parents and students to hold the districts accountable and prevent further bullying.