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Proposed Bill Could Give Iowa Schools More Power In The Fight Against Bullying

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"You include others in play, that you report any problems that are happening, that you talk to an adult at home and at school," said Garfield Elementary School Counselor Candy Reed.

Reed said these are some of the rules they teach students on bully prevention. Students sign the wall underneath these rules saying they're committed to these rules and will be kind to others.

"That's what we're all here to do is to help them achieve," said Reed.

But proposed Iowa legislation would give them more power to intervene when kids are bullied. If passed, schools could investigate bullying happening off school property, after school hours or online. It would also require the school to report any bullying incidents to parents.

Reed said they only intervene if it's affecting the student's learning inside school walls. 

"For example if they're having a disagreement about something that happened online or something somebody tweeted about someone else and it can't and the students can't learn because it's on the minds or the students are having a disagreement with that," said Reed.

However she said monitoring bullying outside of school would be tough and that the community, parents and the school need to work together to stop it.         

"I think it has to be what we can handle, what we can control," said Reed. "We can control maybe what happens within our building, during our school day I'm not sure about the rest of the day, I think that would be very difficult."

Local parents talk about bullying and how they think schools should handle it:

"Any help from any teacher, any staff member for any child is good inside or outside of the school in my opinion, whether they're being bullied at school or at home," said Garfield School parent Christina George.

"Anytime we try to legislate behavior through laws and jurisdiction we don't always find ourselves successful," said Garfield School parent Jason Shanks. "If you want to change how a person treats someone else, it starts in the home. It starts with the parents standing up and taking the right to say that we will be more than simply selfish people, we will exist for others."

For now counselor Candy Reed says they'll have to wait and see what this new legislation will provide to them as educators.

Lawmakers said they hope to pass the new anti-bullying bill within the next month. 

The proposed bill would also include a training component, making sure school administrators and teachers are fully aware of recognizing and investigating bullying.  

 

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