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Controversial Anti-Bullying Legislation Goes Before MN Lawmakers

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Hundreds of students held a rally at the State Capitol Monday in favor of a bill to put more teeth in the state’s anti-bullying law. At just 37 words, Minnesota’s bullying law is among the shortest and weakest in the country.

A new proposal imposes strict requirements on schools to identify bullying and fix it. This would include threats and any intimidation that harms a student.

“So they don’t have to choose on a daily basis, ‘Do I go to school? Or do I stay home and be safe today?'” said Sen. Scott Dibble, the bill’s author.

High school sophomore Xavier Doyle carried a handmade sign with the outline of a figure with bleeding scars, with letters reading: “I Have Battle Scars Due to Bullying.”

“There was probably not a day when I went to my old school when I walked in the halls where I wouldn’t hear ‘tranny, or slut, or whore or b****,'” Doyle said.

Critics say the new law is too vague, and too punitive on students who may, or may not, be bullies.

“This is an unworkable bill,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, who said he was bullied in school.

Chamberlain said it’s wrong to impose a one-size-fits-all law from the state; taking away a teachers’ ability to deal with a bully.

“This is about all kids. A kid is a kid is a kid. And if you go to school and you’re being beaten up or threatened or harassed in any way, the teachers are addressing that. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. If you are harassed or bullied, they are going to address it,” said Chamberlain.

Some Minnesota school districts said that they are concerned that the new bullying proposal mandates statewide training and an evaluation system for teachers and principals. All of that will cost money, which is not included in the bill. Some estimates show that the mandates could cost $20 million — a cost which schools would have to pick up.

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