• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • An Anti-Bullying Agenda for Congress

    No one believes children should be bullied in school, no matter what the genesis of the bullying. But to think that somehow Congress could stop playground taunting, middle-school teasing, or insults leveled through social media is illogical. Yet Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D–TX) and Lamar Smith (R–TX) think they can do just that by expanding Juvenile Accountability Block Grants to include school bullying.

    The proposal includes a “sense of Congress” provision that states “that the use of best practices in the effort to combat bullying should be encouraged.” It also establishes accountability-based programs designed to prevent bullying, including cyber bullying.

    Interest in bullying prevention is not new. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights took up the topic last fall and recommended more federal intervention in bullying prevention. Several members of the commission dissented from the report’s recommendations, arguing that the federal government is an inappropriate vehicle for bullying prevention. “I do not believe that controlling unacceptable student behavior in schools is—as the cliché runs—rocket science,” said commission vice chair Abigail Thernstrom. She continued:

    I have spent much time in both orderly and disorderly schools. In those that are well run and have a culture truly devoted to education, no student even thinks of harassing peers or teachers—the latter often being a serious problem. The inmates do not run the asylum where there are clear messages about who is in charge, and about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. In orderly, disciplined schools, there is no running in the halls, fights between students, disrespectful language used in talking to other students or to teachers.…

    School culture is something that only schools can set. Values cannot be imposed from above or outside. It is very difficult to see how the federal government can play a major role in stopping bullying in hundreds of thousands of schools across the land.

    The Heritage Foundation’s Todd Gaziano, also a member of the commission, noted that some advocates of federal anti-bullying legislation claim it is necessary because state laws fail to prevent bullying:

    If so, what makes them think more federal laws would work? For example, every state prohibits theft with severe penalties, but thefts still occur. Does that mean state theft laws are “not working?” Would a general federal theft law prevent them?

    Teachers and principals are in the best position to establish discipline standards in their classrooms and schools, and they need more authority to do so. As federal intervention in education has grown, so too has congressional micro-management of schools. In order to give teachers and principals the authority to set discipline standards, that congressional overreach needs to be rolled back, and states should be allowed the flexibility to put education funding where it is most needed.

    Federal policymakers should work to free states from the many regulations dictating how they spend education funding and allow states to put that money toward any lawful education purpose under state law. Proposals such as the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) Act do just that and would allow states to prioritize programs like bullying prevention if they deemed it a priority.

    Better still, states could allow funding to become portable, following a child to any school of his or her parents’ choice, where they can be confident of the culture and values that will provide a positive learning environment. And school choice could very well be the best possible anti-bullying program.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to An Anti-Bullying Agenda for Congress

    1. Bobbie says:

      please get the impractical overreach of the federal government out! these matters can be worked out between involved/responsible parties as they always have before the country revealed government activist tools spending money on instigating program building of bullying prevention! How insulting to the minds ability that naturally succumbs to reason without a federal program step by step instructions! There's more childish bullying from grown government adult officials themselves on the democratic side that runs without discipline, setting bad examples by deception, propaganda and rhetorical lies, disguised as truth…

    2. fedupman says:

      Another law, another program to live on forever to be staffed and then its all the lawyers that will lick their chops.

    3. Bullying is a very serious matter when it comes to securing the future of the generations to come. Children who are victims of bullying can be traumatized their whole life. And children who do the bullying might get the hang of it too much that they will grow up and still be bullies. These children both have the tendency of having abnormal outlook in life. Bills against bullying should be approved and strictly implemented. We should also see to it that we know our kids activities and that we know what kind of friends they hang out with. Most importantly, we parents must be good examples to our kids on this aspect. I know this motion still has a very long way to go so I took the initiative to give my kids a way to protect themselves from bullying and from any other kind of danger. I found in the net this personal safety solution that works with GPS technology which enables location monitoring. They can alert me if there is trouble. And if there is real emergency, reaching 911 is much easier and more accurate. Your mobile phone is just what you need. Here is the link: https://safetrec.com

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.