SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers responding to concerns that schoolyard bullying has led to increased suicides and truancy passed a resolution Friday calling attention to the problem.

Democratic Assemblyman Ben Hueso, who proposed the resolution, estimated that 8 percent of students in elementary through high school skip class at least once a month to dodge bullies.

In supporting the resolution, Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, D-Marina del Rey, said a group of bullies once ordered her autistic son to lick a toilet at his elementary school.

Hueso, of San Diego, said harassment can lead to depression, anxiety and criminal activity. His resolution, which designates March as bullying prevention month, says the harassment comes in verbal, physical, psychological or electronic forms.

“Too many children and families have been adversely affected by the impacts of bullying,” he said.

The resolution’s broad interpretation of bullying prompted opposition from Assemblyman Chris Norby, who said he sympathized with the desire to end harassment but questioned anti-bullying programs. The Republican from Fullerton called for a more targeted definition of intimidation and of the goals to combat it.

“When we expand this into verbal and psychological bullying, it indeed is a slippery slope to micromanage anything that a person might use to persuade another person,” Norby said. “Bullying, in fact, may be in the eye of the beholder.”

The ambiguity Norby raised has complicated debates about the role that peer abuse plays in suicides by young people. Last year, a 15-year-old girl in Massachusetts hanged herself after classmates ostracized her on Facebook, through text messages and at school.

Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, said repeated budget cuts to law enforcement agencies in recent years means the public must take more responsibility to deter risky and ultimately criminal behavior among young people. In addition, academic pressure has decreased attention to citizenship lessons in classrooms, he said.

He recommended the establishment of curricula and training to help students identify and oppose bullying.

Hueso introduced people in the Assembly to members of an elementary school program in his district dedicated to anti-bullying.

As PeaceBuilders, the four students walk the campus of El Toyon School, just outside San Diego, watching for conflicts. When they see others not getting along, the mediators try to talk them out of confrontations.

“Since we cannot be everywhere,” Hueso said, “we must teach them, instruct them and empower them to keep them from being the targets of bullying.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (7)
  1. JT says:

    As the saying goes, the apple doesnt fall far from the tree. Look at the child, then look at the parents. If my child was bullying another child, the school wouldnt have to deal with it because my husband and I would be much more a fear to our child than any teacher or school administrator. Children today are not taught self respect let alone respect for others.

    1. sosilly says:

      I agree and that’s my position too. My kids knew that they always faced far more retribution at home and clearly knew the rules and expectations…but what if your child is the target?

      1. grey pupon bandit says:

        bullying is not only in school, but are in jobs & politics as well.

  2. Swim says:

    Yes teach the kids! The teaching staff is useless because they stick to the age old tradition of ignoring bullying. Are we ever even going to try to make parents responsible for the actions of their kids? Mabe that would get parents to pay attention to their little monsters.

  3. Ron says:

    Shouldn’t the legislature be spending time working on a State Budget and a way to balance spending, rather than trying to figure out how to parent these students? Focus on the problems, ladies and gentlemen!!

  4. TheDude says:

    …this is another program that will for sure be funded while educational programs supporting the arts, athletics, and academic achievement face the axe year after year.

    Rather than ask the teachers to DO THEIR JOBS and parents to MODERATE their children’s activities, they will opt to throw taxpayer money on another feel-good program…

  5. LH says:

    If parents actually took care of their children properly this wouldn’t be a problem. There are too many “ghetto” parents out there that would rather sit on the couch and let their kids run wild then actually take the time to teach them to be productive members of society. I see it all too much in my neighborhood. Everyone wants to be a rapper or the next best drug dealer. But until these “parents” learn to actually be parents this problem will not go away. I say we hold the parents responsible for their childs actions. I bet thing start to change then.

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