Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Garden State Rocks!

Being from New Jersey, I’ve become quite accustomed to getting teased. People have begged me to say “coffee” in their presence to hear my accent. I get asked what exit on the Turnpike I’m from (14C, if you must know). And with the unfortunate popularity of Jersey Shore, there is no end to the stereotypes.

But today, the Garden State gets to prove just how awesome it is—and it’s no joke.

Garden State Equality just sent out the news that NJ Governor Chris Christie has signed the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which would give the state the nation’s toughest anti-bullying law.

The law mandates specific anti-bullying procedures for schools across the state, and requires that school personnel report incidents of bullying to principals on the same day as the incident happens. In turn, the school must launch an investigation of the situation within one day.

Other unique highlights include that the law is:
  • America's first anti-bullying law to provide for an anti-bullying coordinator in every district, and an anti-bullying specialist in every school to lead an anti-bullying team that also includes the principal, a teacher and a parent.
  • America's first anti-bullying law to grade every school on how well it is countering bullying – and to require that every school post its grade on the home page of its website. Also on the home page of its website, every school must post contact information for its anti-bullying specialist.
  • America's first anti-bullying law to provide training to teachers in suicide prevention specifically with regard to students from communities at high risk for suicide.
  • The law applies to extracurricular school-related settings, such as cyberbullying, school buses, school-sponsored functions and to bullying off school grounds that carries over into school.
  • The law requires a school to notify the parents of all students involved in an incident, including the parents of the bully and the bullied student, and offers counseling and intervention services.
  • The law mandates year-round anti-bullying instruction appropriate to each grade, and an annual Week of Respect in every school that will feature anti-bullying programming.
More info is available from our friends at Garden State Equality.

Congratulations to all of the people who were so committed to making this legislation into a reality for students in the state. We hope that we’ll see other states follow their lead.

So for now, let the Jersey jokes stop and let the celebration begin. But first, I’ve got to work on my big hair and listen to some Bon Jovi.

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