The state House is close to sending to the Senate a bill to require anti-bullying policies in Missouri schools. The legislation touches on issues state lawmakers have debated several times in recent years.
The bill was opposed by fellow Republican Rick Brattin (Harrisonville), who thinks that isn’t an issue the legislature should deal with.
“We have bullies and we are not going to stop bullying ever. It’s not going to happen,” said Brattin. “We can either create a society where you stand up for yourself or you are nothing but a victim and someone else has to take care of your problems.”
Representative Mike Colona (D-St. Louis) accused Brattin of blaming the victims of bullying.
“Maybe they were brought up that blackening somebody’s eye isn’t the right way to do it. They need an avenue. They need a method, a way, to address this,” said Colona. “This bill does a lot of good moving in the right direction.”
Such legislation has failed in past years amid debate about whether it should allow school districts to list specific classes of people it would protect based on things like religion, sexual preference, or race.
Representative Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City) thinks it should.
“We know what’s good for one district is not always good for every district,” said Morgan. “We’ve spoken about the importance of local control many times in this chamber.”
Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) argues allowing such lists to exist means some children would not be protected.
“For as many different things as children do, you can think of a thing that another kid will bully them about,” said Barnes.
The bill is one favorable vote away from going to the state Senate without allowing for such lists.