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July 1, 2008

Kentucky’s anti-bullying law

Some 30 states have laws requiring schools to maintain a disciplinary system that specifically addresses bullying and related behavioral issues. On April 15 of this year, Kentucky joined the club. 

This was the fifth year that Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Providence, introduced legislation requiring all school districts to have a policy in place that addresses bullying and harassment of students. A nearly identical bill had passed the House four times before it finally ascended the Senate and landed on Gov. Steve Beshear’s desk this spring. 

“I would make the case that hopefully, hopefully, there’s not a school system in the world that needs to implement it because they’ve already done it,” Cherry told LEO. He said he had the support of some 45 family and child advocacy organizations asking for a bullying bill. 

“Bullying somewhere is in the background of a large majority of school violence,” Cherry said. 

The law requires all school districts to maintain a behavior policy outlining the definitions and disciplinary consequences of harassment, intimidation and bullying. As well, schools must track instances of bullying more closely than they had before. 

“It should be part of any school system to do everything they can to minimize the possibility of such events occurring,” Cherry said. 

Cherry didn’t want to comment specifically on the case of Stephen Patton, but he said in general that he believes parents, teachers and students are all responsible in some part for behavior in schools. —Stephen George

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