Gazette Editorial Board
We share the concern that Sen. Tom Harkin and 1st District Congressman Bruce Braley have about bullying in schools. In particular, escalating cyberbullying through social media and other Internet avenues has become a difficult problem for many schools and parents. It adds burden to teachers’ jobs, robs students of valuable education time and elevates the risk of violence.
Still, we are skeptical about a recent anti-bullying proposal from the two federal lawmakers.
Braley and Harkin recently introduced legislation in the House and Senate, respectively, aimed at reducing bullying. It essentially would provide two grant programs to states. One would distribute money to school districts to help expand physical activity and nutrition education, prevent drug use and violence, and promote mental health. The second program would assist data-collection systems that could help ensure a bullying-free school environment.
As we’ve previously written, effectively dealing with bullying in each district requires extensive involvement of parents, the community and police with school staff. It’s essentially a local issue. No state or federal law is an adequate substitute for that approach.
That said, the Braley-Harkin proposal is aimed at assisting K-12 schools, not dictating a federal anti-bullying policy. Good.
But the first leg of their proposal seems to overlap with other existing public and private education programs on healthy lifestyle choices, or with things many school districts are doing on their own.
As well, a federal education website already offers advice and other information: stopbullying.gov.
As for data collection — can’t that be done with a collaboration of local law enforcement, schools and community members?
Let’s not rush to add a questionable federal Band-Aid and another taxpayer expense.
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