Letter at length, March 13

Anti-bullying legislation will keep kids safe

In the United States, a reported 30 percent of students have been involved in bullying — whether as a bully, as a target of bullying, or both. If passed by the legislature, the Oregon Safe Schools Act will strengthen and enhance Oregon's existing anti-bullying statute and work toward eliminating bullying in Oregon schools.

At this time, bullying and harassment are far too common. One in five elementary school students reported being bullied in the last month alone. Another one in three high school students will say that they don't feel safe in school. Most often, bullies attack the kids that don't fit in, and this poses a serious problem for marginalized students in our state.

A reported 24 percent of students ages 8 to 11 have said that race-related bullying takes place at their school either often or occasionally. Gay youth are three times more likely than straight students to drop out of school and to attempt suicide. Youth with disabilities or special needs, racial and ethnic minorities, gay and transgender youth, as well as girls, are often disproportionately impacted by bullying.

We must take action immediately.

It has been found that effective anti-bullying programs in schools can help cut bullying issues in half. This is why we are asking the legislature to pass the Oregon Safe Schools Act. The Oregon Safe Schools Act will ensure the statewide adoption of anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies. The act will require schools to create clear notice and complaint procedures as well as establish a comprehensive approach to address bullying issues. It will ultimately reduce the frequency of bullying and harassment, making Oregon schools safer for all students.

Legislators must pass HB 2599, the Safe Schools legislation, and keep Oregon students safe.

Alexandra N. Amarotico

Director of Communications

Associated Students of Southern Oregon University

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