Anti-Bullying Bill Spurred By Teen Suicide Closer To Becoming Law

Tuesday, February 22nd 2011, 5:08 pm
By: News 9

Dana Hertneky, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -– Anti-bullying legislation, spurred by the May suicide of 11-year-old bullying victim Ty Field, is closer to becoming law. House Bill 1461 passed out of committee Tuesday after a 16-0 vote.

Ty Field committed suicide last spring, the result of bullying said Field's father, who has since pushed for tougher anti-bullying laws.

Ty's family is in Representative Lee Denney's district. House Bill 1461 is her legislation. It essentially strengthens Oklahoma's current bullying bill by requiring school districts to adopt a bullying policy that includes a procedure for reporting harassment, requires school employees to report any suspected bullying and requires annual training for school employees on bullying.

"We're just saying we want them to acknowledge that bullying goes on. We want them to train their teachers. We want them to have committees in place in case something happens," said Rep. Denney Cushing ( R ).

The bill cracks down on acts that can physically or emotionally harm a student, damage the student's property or interfere with the operation of the school.

The bill said schools must provide consequences and remedial action to those who commit acts of bullying.

Earlier this month, some Mustang teen moms say they were being bullied when someone put up a Facebook page calling them names.

The legislation also defines cyber bullying, prohibiting cyber bullying through e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging and other electronic communications and includes it in current bullying laws.

"I think this is a statewide and nationwide problem that we're seeing so much of because it's been exasperated by Facebook and iPhones and the Internet," said Denney.

Rep. Denney said she hopes these changes to the law will prevent another child from feeling like they have no options.

The legislation now goes to the full House for a vote. A similar bill has been filed in the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.