(TRENTON) – Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth) issued the following statement Thursday, in the wake of the apparent suicide death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi over footage of an intimate encounter between him and another male student that was secretly recorded and broadcast over the Internet by his roommate:
“The suicide of Tyler Clemente is heart-wrenching. Our prayers and deepest condolences go to his family, friends and everyone in the Rutgers community at this time of unspeakable tragedy.
“Our nation is suffering an epidemic of bullying by students against other students. For the last six months, we have been working on a bipartisan legislation – the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights – which we will introduce in October. The bill would create a new and far more effective model for preventing and responding to school bullying than exists anywhere else in the country.
“Presently, 44 states, including our own, have anti-school bullying laws. In fact, New Jersey enacted anti-bullying laws in 2002, 2007 and 2008. However, with bullying continuing and a number of bullied students committing suicide across the country this year alone, clearly much more needs to be done.
For the past six months, we have been working with leading education, anti-bullying and child welfare experts from across the country, as well as with Garden State Equality and the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention, to reform New Jersey’s school bullying law to set clearer and stronger deadlines and procedures for preventing, reporting and responding to school bullying.
“We believe our bill will create a new national paradigm for ant-bullying reform. Our bill draws on existing reDests and uses them more wisely and does not involve unfunded mandates or pass the costs onto taxpayers.
We can – and must – do better with the reDests we have and, with that in mind, we believe our bill will get significant bipartisan support. The education and lives of our students hang in the balance.”