To ensure anti-bullying laws in New Jersey are successful in protecting students, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Robert Karabinchak and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson to establish an anti-bullying task force to evaluate current law was approved by the full Assembly, 75-0.
“I’m very proud that New Jersey was first in the nation to implement an anti-bullying law back in 2002,” said Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). “But some first-of-its-kind laws need to be refined, which led to the 2011 Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act we have today. Since then, we’ve received feedback from school districts and staff requesting consistent evaluation to see how the law is working, and determine if changes need to be made. The task force formed under this bill would work to address those concerns and strengthen our anti-bullying efforts.”
The bill (A-4848) would create an eleven-member task force to examine, evaluate and make recommendations regarding the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act. Nine members would be required to have a background in, or special knowledge of, the legal, policy, education, social, or psychological aspects of bullying in public schools. Two members would be appointed by the Senate President, two by the Speaker of the General Assembly, and five by the Governor. The task force would also include two members of the public, one of whom is a family member of a student who has experience bullying and one of whom is a student over age 17 who has personally experienced bullying.
“We must make sure our anti-bullying policies deter harassment and intimidation, and staff has clear guidelines as to what constitutes bullying and how to take appropriate action,” said Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “The task force will help us to ensure our anti-bullying law in New Jersey is working to protect our students.”
Under the measure, the task force would be charged with studying the current implementation of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, and identify areas for improvement and make recommendations for appropriate changes or updates. The task force will:
- Examine and evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act in schools in New Jersey;
- Examine any unintended consequences resulting from implementation of the law and the regulations promulgated pursuant to the act, including, but not limited to, impacts of the law on athletic coaches, and;
- Present any recommendations deemed necessary and appropriate to modify or update the law and its implementation regulations.
The task force would hold at least one public hearing during the course of its work to receive public input on these issues.
Additionally, the task force would be required to issue a final report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature within 180 days of its organization.
The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.