A Watch-dog Organization - Advocating for Bullied Children
& Reporting on State Anti Bullying Laws
Montana tried to get a law in 2005, but gay rights and family organizations fought over "victim definitions" and basically, the baby was cut in half in the process. (Note: To define victims is to blame victims - victim definitions DO NOT need to be in an anti bullying law and I personally tried to warn their lawmakers that this inclusive language would be a problem.)
Other than in 2013, Montana lawmakers have tried to introduce anti bullying laws just about every legislative session since 2005, which is every other year, and WITHOUT the victim definitions, but, "the ghosts of bill's past" have haunted close-minded lawmakers ever since. They have been negligent about protecting their children in Montana schools.
Recently, BPUSA Media Researcher, Kristl Widner, wrote, via email, the Governor of Montana, talking about her own children who were bullied while sending him some research about what bullying does to kids:
"Every day there are children being bullied and some have attempted suicide or have committed suicide. ....A child should not be afraid. A child should feel safe..."
The Governor, Steve Bullock, gave Kristl his reply:
Dear Kristl and Bully Police USA:
I appreciate your email and information. Bullying, harassment and intimidation are real issues affecting Montana students.
As a father of three school-aged kids, I understand the significance of preventing bullying and cyberbullying. Our children should feel safe from bullying at school and at home, and we have a responsibility to ensure that safety. As Attorney General, I supported a bill called the SAFE Act (Schools are for Education Act), which aimed to help kids feel safe and bully-free in our schools.
As you mentioned, bullying and cyberbullying are growing in size throughout the country. Cell phones and computers have created an entirely new avenue for targeting victims. These problems are no longer confined to school playgrounds or events, and they often create a negative school environment, disrupting not only the students' ability to learn, but the operation of the school. I assure you I will continue to work alongside those fighting bullying throughout Montana and the country.
Thanks again for contacting my office. Please don't hesitate to do so again with any questions or concerns.
Note: the SAFE Act was not passed, nor approved in 2011. This bill, (which I helped to work on), can be found at http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2011/BillHtml/SB0141.htm.
My take on this email-reply is that the Governor of Montana is a sincere man who is open to supporting and signing a quality Bullying Prevention/Anti Bullying Law.
It is up to the parents of Montana to continue to press their lawmaker to do what is right for your children. It's as easy as taking Wyoming's A++ law passed in 2009, www.BullyPolice.org/wy_law.html, changing the language/grammar to fit Montana's bill-writing platform, and then making it your own. Go after it in the 2015 session my friends!!!
~Brenda High (Founder, Co-Director, BPUSA)
The 2005 proposed law:
SENATE BILL NO. 198
INTRODUCED BY S. KITZENBERG
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT REQUIRING A SCHOOL DISTRICT TO ADOPT A POLICY PROHIBITING HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION, OR BULLYING ON SCHOOL PROPERTY, AT A SCHOOL-SPONSORED FUNCTION, OR ON A SCHOOL BUS." (Covers point 1 & 2 on the Bully Police USA grading scale - www.bullypolice.org/grade.html)
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Legislative findings and declarations.
(1) The legislature finds that:
(a) a safe and civil environment in school is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards;
(b) harassment, intimidation, or bullying, like other disruptive or violent behaviors, disrupts both a student's ability to learn and a school's ability to educate its students in a safe environment; and
(c) school personnel should demonstrate appropriate behavior by refusing to tolerate harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
(2) The legislature declares that there is a compelling public need for school districts to adopt policies that prohibit harassment, intimidation, or bullying of students.
Section 2. Definition. (Covers point 3 on the Bully Police USA grading scale - www.bullypolice.org/grade.html)
(1) As used in [sections 1 through 5], "harassment, intimidation, or bullying" means any gesture or written, verbal, or physical act that:
(a) a reasonable person should know will have the effect of harming a student, damaging a student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student's person or damage to the student's property; or
(b) has the effect of insulting or demeaning a student or group of students in such a way as to disrupt or interfere with the school's educational mission or is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.
(2) The term includes but is not limited to any gesture or written, verbal, or physical act that is reasonably perceived as being motivated by:
(a) an actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, social or economic status, language barrier, or homeless status;
(b) a mental, physical, or sensory handicap; or
(c) any other actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic.
(These are what I call "victim definitions")
Section 3. Harassment policy -- contents. (Covers point 4 & 5 on the Bully Police USA grading scale - www.bullypolice.org/grade.html)
(1) The trustees shall adopt a policy that prohibits harassment, intimidation, or bullying on school property, at a school-sponsored function, or on a school bus. The trustees shall consult with parents, school personnel, students, and members of the community in developing the policy.
(2) At a minimum, the policy must include:
(a) a statement prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student;
(b) a definition of harassment, intimidation, or bullying that may not be less inclusive than the definition provided in [section 2];
(c) a description of the type of behavior expected from each student;
(d) a procedure for reporting an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying, including a provision that permits a person to report the act anonymously. Formal disciplinary action may not be initiated solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
(e) a procedure for the prompt investigation of a report of a violation or complaint. The principal of the school or the principal's designee shall conduct the investigation.
(f) a statement that prohibits reprisal or retaliation against a person who reports an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying; and (Covers point 8 on the Bully Police USA grading scale - www.bullypolice.org/grade.html)
(g) the consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person who:
(i) commits an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying; or
(ii) retaliates against a person who reports an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
(3) The policy must be included in any school district publication that sets forth policies and procedures or standards of conduct for employees or students.
(4) A copy of the policy must be sent to the county superintendent. (1/2 point for # 11 on the Bully Police USA grading scale - www.bullypolice.org/grade.html)
Section 4. School district responsibilities.
(1) The trustees shall ensure that every school district employee, person working under contract with the school district, school volunteer, and student is made aware of the district's policy on harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
(2) (a) If a school district has a training or orientation program for school district employees or school volunteers, the provisions of the district's policy must be incorporated into the program.
(b) To the extent funds are available, a school district shall provide training on the district's policy to school district employees and school volunteers who have contact with students. (1/2 point for # 6 on the Bully Police USA grading scale - www.bullypolice.org/grade.html)
(3) A school district or a school is encouraged to establish a program for the prevention of harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
Section 5. School personnel responsibilities.
(1) A school district employee or a school volunteer who has witnessed or has reliable information that a student has been subjected to harassment, intimidation, or bullying shall promptly report the incident to the appropriate school official designated in the district's policy.
(2) A school district employee or a school volunteer may not engage in reprisal or retaliation against a victim, a witness, or a person with reliable information about an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
Section 6. Codification instruction.
[Sections 1 through 5] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 20, chapter 3, part 3, and the provisions of Title 20, chapter 3, part 3, apply to [sections 1 through 5].