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Casey Discusses New Bullying Policies with the School District of Philadelphia

Casey Discusses New Bullying Policies with the School District of Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, PA – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today visited Joseph Pennell Academics Plus School in Philadelphia to discuss the bullying and harassment epidemic facing our schools.  Senator Casey discussed his bill, the Safe Schools Improvement Act (S. 3739), which aims to help prevent bullying in schools.  Senator Casey was joined by representatives from the School District of Philadelphia on a tour of the school to observe the initiatives they have in place to help teachers and students prevent bullying.   
“Bullying and harassment affect millions of students every year. While we do have federal laws to provide support to promote school safety, there is nothing currently in place to comprehensively and expressly address issues of bullying or harassment,” said Senator Casey. “I applaud the work being done in the School District of Philadelphia to combat this epidemic.  I introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act to help ensure that every child receives a quality education that builds self-confidence.  This bill is a crucial step towards ensuring that no child is so afraid to go to school that he or she stays home for fear of bullying.”
“We welcome Senator Casey’s efforts on behalf of safe schools throughout Pennsylvania and across the nation,” said Arlene C. Ackerman, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.   “Our District recently updated its long standing anti-harassment and bullying policies and it is in the midst of rolling out a new violence prevention curriculum across all grades.  The Safe Schools Improvement Act will help all public schools implement the best practices necessary to make sure that all students are provided with a safe and nurturing environment where to learn.”
During his visit, Senator Casey had the opportunity to observe two anti-bullying initiatives.  Structured Recess aims to reduce teasing and bullying, improve social skills, increase physical activity and reduce schoolyard injuries.  Second Step is a violence prevention curriculum to help children think about, develop and practice positive social skills including empathy training, impulse control and problem solving and anger management.
These initiatives are part of Project Safe Schools, the School District of Philadelphia’s comprehensive plan to address school safety.  Included in this plan are new policies adopted by the School District which clearly define and prohibit all forms of bullying throughout the School District and encourage students and/or parents to report all incidents of bullying.  The plan also includes an anti-bullying hotline.
Senator Casey’s Safe Schools Improvement Act would require schools and districts receiving designated federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including conduct based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. The Act would ensure that schools and school districts implement effective prevention programs in order to better prevent and respond to incidences of bullying and harassment and would require that states report data on incidences of bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.
Cosponsors of the Safe Schools Improvement Act include Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Roland Burris (D-IL).
Congresswoman Linda Sanchez introduced H.R. 2262, the companion legislation, in the House of Representatives last year. 

The Safe Schools Improvement Act has broad support from educators, administrators and civil rights organizations, including the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American School Health Association, National Association of School Psychologists, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, American Association of University Women, Asian American Justice Center, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Human Rights Campaign and the National Council of La Raza.

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