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35th District Legislators to Speak at Manchester Regional High School on NJ Anti-Bullying Law

Senator Pou, Sponsor of the Anti-Bullying Legislation, to Discuss the History of the Statute

(TRENTON) — Democrats Senator Nellie Pou and Assembly members Benjie E. Wimberly and Shavonda E. Sumter will visit Manchester Regional High School this month to speak to students and parents on the prevalent issue of bullying in our schools and New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Law. Senator Pou was one of the primary sponsors of the bill that established the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights to address bullying, harassment and intimidation in schools.

“Harassment, intimidation and bullying can have severe long-term effects on young people. The law I sponsored is intended to educate students about the impact this kind of behavior can have on their peers and to deter students from participating,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It is disheartening to hear about incidents that continue to take place in our state; however, I believe that engaging in an honest and open discussion in our schools will go a long way to improve our educational environments.”

Several Manchester Regional High School Students recently were targets of an act of cyber bullying recently that used Instagram, a photo sharing website compatible with Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, to post photos and degrading remarks of the students.

“As a high school football coach, I have some insight on how teasing and insults can easily get out of hand among students,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic).

The legislators note that as the investigation of the incident is ongoing this is good opportunity to hear from the children their thoughts on bullying, the law and how schools can effectively address peer-to-peer abuse in schools.

“Even if the actions of the students are not punishable by law, misusing social media to insult and hurt others should never be tolerated in our schools. With an open discussion maybe we can help prevent further incidences from happening in the future,” added Wimberly.

“I was truly dismayed upon hearing of the recent incident at Manchester,” said Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic). “There can be a lesson in all of this for all students, here at Manchester and throughout New Jersey. It is possible with a better explanation of the law that we can help students understand the importance of valuing and respecting their peers.

Signed into law three years ago, the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which also covers acts of cyber-bullying, has made New Jersey a national leader in anti-bullying efforts and a model for the country. Its components use existing resources — i.e. guidance counselors, safety officers, and administrators — to effectively monitor, manage and address trends of peer-to-peer abuse or bullying.

“Bullying is abuse. Students, teachers and parents all have a responsibility to speak out when they become aware that it is happening. Our goal must be to stop this kind of behavior in its tracks — whether it takes place in the building or on the Internet — and to resolve student disagreements before they go too far,” added Senator Pou.

The legislators are currently coordinating the date for the student and parents assembly with school officials. It will be announced as soon as it is determined.