SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7) hailed today’s signing of legislation she sponsored requiring school districts to adopt robust anti-bullying policies that protect and empower victims and address bullying behavior. Since 2007, public school districts and non-sectarian private schools have been required to prohibit bullying. Steans and House sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago 14) introduced their plan in order to nudge schools with boilerplate or poorly enforced policies to have community-wide conversations resulting in effective procedures for combating bullying.
“Every child deserves to be safe at school,” Steans said. “Bullying behavior harms both the victim and the bully, and every school should be taking steps to stop the cycle and promote the wellbeing of its students. Most schools already do this every day; this legislation makes sure we’re all moving in the same direction.”
House Bill 5707 was based on the recommendations of the School Bullying Prevention Task Force. It requires school districts, charter schools and non-sectarian private schools to designate one or more staff members to receive anonymous reports of bullying, make an effort to investigate reports within 10 days, protect student privacy, prohibit retaliation and false accusations, establish the types of interventions used to address bullying and inform students and parents of these procedures. Charter schools are now part of the state’s anti-bullying law for the first time.
“A society where rights are respected and diverse contributions are encouraged doesn’t spring up overnight,” Steans said. “It starts with creating an environment that allows all children, with their many differences, to grow into their full potential.”