Garden State’s Bully Ban Law


While it’s likely that there will always be bullies somewhere in the world, things are looking brighter for “picked-on” school kids in New Jersey. A bill, called the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, cleared the state assembly and senate education committees yesterday, November 15.

Steven Goldstein, president of Garden State Equality, which wrote and championed the bill, testified during the Senate Education Committee hearings and spoke during a press conference on the steps of the Statehouse. Goldstein — who himself was bullied as a child growing up in New York City — said that this bill would make the world a kinder place.

Goldstein told Baristanet today that the bill now goes on to the full assembly and full senate. “We expect it to pass both houses overwhelmingly,” he said. When that happens, says Goldstein, “it will be the most comprehensive anti-bullying law in the nation.”

The bill has been in the works for about a year but received nationwide attention following the suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi.

Goldstein made a clear distinction between the existing Safer Schools and Anti-Bullying law, which was passed in 2002 and GSE’s proposed bill. “The current law pretty much says school districts should adopt bullying policies, but doesn’t say anything about what those policies should include and has no consequences if schools don’t adopt policies. Our bill sets clear standards,” he said. A fact sheet on the bill, provided to Baristanet by Garden State Equality explains further:

Because the 2002 law was one of the first such laws in the country, other states’ laws have since surpassed our law. Today, New Jersey’s rate of bullying, according to a U.S. government report, is actually higher than the national average.

The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights is the product of a year of research and discussions with top anti-bullying experts, who report that New Jersey has one of the weaker anti-bullying laws in the country.The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights would give New Jersey the strongest, toughest anti-bullying law in the country – by far.

Under the new law, most public school teachers, administrators and other employees would receive mandatory anti-bully training and all districts would be required to have a “school safety team” to review student complaints. School districts would receive state assessments and “grades” on their anti-bullying efforts. The state would also oversee disciplinary measures related to incidents — both inside and outside of school.

Objectors include the New Jersey ACLU, which says they support the bill but believe that giving school administrators the authority to discipline students for bullying off school grounds outside of school hours may not be constitutional.

Photo credit.

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  1. “Under the new law, most public school teachers, administrators and other employees would receive mandatory anti-bully training and all districts would be required to have a “school safety team” to review student complaints. School districts would receive state assessments and “grades” on their anti-bullying efforts. The state would also oversee disciplinary measures related to incidents — both inside and outside of school.”

    More mandates, more bureaucracy, assessments, assessors, school safety teams, mandatory training….

    What a mess. It’s hopeless. its not a matter of “if” our society will disintegrate by consuming itself, but when.

  2. p.s.

    Obviously we will now need an “anti-bullying coordinator” for the district. $75,000 to $80,000 will probably do the trick.

  3. You have to love this:

    “…discussions with top anti-bullying experts, who report that New Jersey has one of the weaker anti-bullying laws in the country.”


    “…employable anti-bullying experts report that New Jersey law does not mandate the hiring of enough anti-bullying experts.”

  4. “This issue plus seatbelt laws are the only thing that unifies the Trenton crowd.”

    Sure. It’s very easy to mandate things you don’t have to pay for.

  5. For $10.95/hour I can teach you how to become an anti-bullying expert. On average it takes about 100 hours to get the requisite skills. Afterwards you can offer your expertise to school districts for $20/hour. Not a bad return is it?

  6. This is a wonderful stimulus law.
    My legal colleagues have been having a difficult time with the fall off of business activity. Now they will have a whole new spectrum of lawsuits to occupy them. The school districts will be duck soup for failure to comply with the new ambiguous requirements.
    Financial income problems solved.

  7. behold….

    Unbelievable. Excessive government is like a metastasis you swat it down in one place and it pops up in another.

    Fiscal discipline is coming, no one will like the collapse, but it’s coming.

    This applies to colleges by the way, you can look forward to “anti bullying” being used by the PC Police to curtail free speech. If someone is “uncomfortable” they’re being “bullied” and if they’re bullied it will be actionable.

    Lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits!

  8. No point lambasting excessive government, ROC, unless you’re willing to first lambast the negligent parenting that breeds bullies.

    And who is to pick up the slack on behalf of a healthy society when mommy and daddy are too busy building their careers or running after some off-hours self-absorptive activity — and therefore can’t possible seem to find the time to sit and teach their kids how to behave decently towards their peers?

    The church? The cops? Surely not the government, in your view. But wait, the cops are part of the government. That leaves the church. Or did you have another idea?

  9. My boss bullied me today. He said I have to work harder and stop spending so much time on baristanet. I’m gonna dial 1-800-litigate for some help.

  10. I wonder if there are any plans in the works to actually recognize the difference between aggressor and victim.

    As it currently stands in many school districts (don’t know about Montclair): A kid can sit there and have his face kicked in without lifting a finger and receive the same in-school punishment as the person who attacked him.

    If the victim actually fights back in any way (and even sometimes just putting your hands up in defense is considered “fighting back”), he’s subject to the same legal penalties as the attacker.

  11. Very good point GNM. Today was talking to a Bloomfield Mom (not THE bloomfieldmama) and she said her son’s friend has been bullied plenty of times and gets in serious trouble when he fights back.

  12. ROC @ 2:47, 2:48 and 2:55 was KILLING IT!!! Bravo!!!!

    So now these teachers, who are told they are paid too much, work too little and are replaceable are the only line of defense?

    How does that work? We hate teachers when we have to pay them, but we want them all the be educators, parents, clergy-whoops not clergy, and social workers?

    Believe me, after this– they need Summers off.

  13. I think I have an opinion here, but I am too emotionally scarred by all the bullies who picked on me when I was a short fat little nerd to know if my thoughts have any validity.

  14. And don’t forget that Montclair State if-you-rename-it-as-a-university-it-must-be-one will be sure to create an anti bullying certification program which the NJEA and their douchebag legislative shills will soon require and mandate that every school have and that only certifed persons be in those positions. That’s how we got substance abuse counselors.
    I’m sure gender equity specialists, LGBT anti-discrimination compliance officers, followed by who knows what victim-of-the-month specialist will be next. Thus the Legal Political Educational Industrial Complex grows more voracious with every blue obsession.

    How much more BS “teacher training” crap band-aid programs will be coming down the pike. Anyone remember “Right to Know”?

  15. During my own childhood, bullies were a fact of life. So you learned judo or how to box, told your parents, got together with several friends to handle the bully (because bullies often are tough, the cliche that they’re usually simply “misunderstood” themselves is just so much tommyrot) or, perhaps most commonly, learned how to avoid them as best as possible. And it got easier over the years.

    Now, however, an entire subset of the therapeutic establishment seems to be a growth industry, because bullying has somehow been “elevated” into a major issue. I’m not sure this is any sort of improvement. (No one recalls the old “Our Gang” comedies where Spanky and Alfalfa had to deal with bullies?)

    Certainly, the recent rash of teen suicides which have been linked to prior incidents of bullying hints that we may have created an environment in which acts of bullying are most overrated by the tormented. This is not to dismiss the tragedy of such incidents, but to suggest that in their day the thuggish likes of the Rochinski brothers (one of whom drove legally to his 8th grade graduation, along with several other male classmates) or Bobby Borst (how happy many of my friends were to hear he developed cirrhosis of the liver in his 20’s!) were at least as fearsome as today’s crop of bullies. We just didn’t overrate such threats, nor of course did we have ready access to so many “professionals” who never themselves have to walk the schoolyards and actually deal face-to-face with genuine bullies.

  16. We also didn’t have the Internet way back when, Cathar, which I think amplifies the situation. Now you can not only be humiliated by your classmates in the schoolyard buy perceivably by the whole world.

    I’m not sure we need new laws in place to handle bullying. What’s wrong with the old ones against harrassment and terroristic threats? Maybe they just need to be implemented more? Who knows.

    We had an awful bully in our neighborhood growing up (whom I’ll call Alan). Alan was a non-discriminate bully; he picked on everyone: girls, boys, younger kids, older kids. He was also bigger and fatter than the most of the other kids which gave him an edge of “toughness.” Since I was no match for him, I would just run away or hide if I saw him coming.

    One day, I happened to observe an incident between Alan and his father. His father was berating him almost to the point of tears and didn’t care that I, or anyone else, was in earshot. I almost felt sorry for the poor bastard. Almost, because the next day, Alan was back to his old self, picking on the small and helpless. But on that day, I learned that the bully is oftened the bullied.

  17. Bullies today are unlike the ones in our day. Now more kids become bullies because they can do it in the privacy of their own home with some level of anonymity. Yes, in our day you could fight back with fists or avoidance, but now these bullies can use their words to affect their victims 24 hours a day with the use of cell phones, facebook, formspring (anonymous postings) and other forms of media. Don’t kid yourself. It is much worse and more brutal today. Physical bruises can heal in a matter of time but the emotional scarring and slanderous comments can destroy an individual forever. There is no way to erase comments that are posted on the WWW. Perhaps you were unaware. I am thankful that this law has passed. In my day I would not stand to be bullied and I would beat up the bully who victimized the weak. Now I will prosecute them to the fullest degree of the law. The police will be a part of enforcing the bullying outside of school and now the schools who have not been compliant will finally have to take a stand.

  18. I only wish in my day you could silence a bully by switching off the computer.

    Really? Online “bullying”? Please.

  19. Mrs. Martta, your post about “Alan” sort of falls in the ‘boo hoo hoo’ category. I have never much cared that the bully is often the bullied at home. The domestic lives of the Rochinski brothers were not my business. And it has never been an excuse for lousy socialization. Nor should it be. The truly sad thing about too many of the bullying creeps I endured while growing up was that they had too many priors by age 19 or thereabouts to allow them to become prime candidates for the military draft. The “good” thus went on to Nam, the bad stayed home to live and drink off insurance settlements from auto accidents in more than one real instance.

    Angelauntmeg, your post just smacks of stagy self-righteousness. “You” will now prosecute bullies? “You” stood up for others back in your schooldays? Oh sure, and Joan of Arc lived to a ripe old age. Even if perchance you’ve become an actual prosecutor since then, well, you never knew the Rochinski brothers (there were three, just like Ma Barker’s brood) in their prime, nor did you have to take them on.

  20. As cathar’s post makes clear, the experience of being bullied stays with folks for quite some time. Sure, they get over it (most of them). People can get over anything, really. But, why should they have to?
    And while I know that bullies often come from tough backgrounds, etc., most research demonstrates that they really don’t for the most part. They’re just what they are. This goes along with the fiction that those bullied lash out against others, like the story that the Columbine shooters were bullied. They weren’t. They were just kids with a host of issues who decided to kill other people. Everything doesn’t have such a neat explanation.

    My burden was being the oldest boy, charged with defending the whole brood of nine others. The girls didn’t need my help. They could wither any bully with a look or a word. The boys? Quite frankly, they deserved a smack every now and then and since Mam wouldn’t let me do it, I was willing to hire out the work.

    Cathar, I’ve met several men over the years who ran afoul of the law prior to 1968 and were offered the choice of jail or the military. They chose the military. In one case, the Coast Guard, hoping for a cushy gig in San Francisco Bay. It turned into a brown water navy gig on the Mekong. So it does seem that some of those “bad boys” went east as well, no?

  21. “They’re just what they are.”

    Which is why the Division of Anti-Bullying Education and Boondoggle Public Spending is a waste.

  22. @GNM: You’re right. The victim is now subject to the same penalty as the aggressor if they defend themselves. I just can’t find any shred of logic in that.

  23. Yes ROC. Impeccable logic as always.

    Murderers are what they are too, so let’s do away with that boondoggle public spending called the police department.

    What a dope.

  24. Bullying behaviors, whether it’s physical or mental, reveals a broken human being; one who must build him/herself up at the expensive of others. Yes, croi. It’s likely a host of issues create these people but to believe that a new bill will make the world a kinder place it pure nonsense. It may have some positive effects on school staffs but it’s likely that most professionals already recognize these behaviors.

    The guidelines for the discipline of students classified with behavioral disorders for the most part prevent any real disciplinary measures in school. I wonder how the state will oversee this new law as noted above both inside and out of school. More of the hated paperwork with likely little results!

  25. Dag, existing regs are in my opinion sufficient to deal with the problem. I think that this new law is designed more to line up local entities to take legal hits when “proper diligence” hasn’t been demonstarted to someone’s satisfaction.

    Human behaviour really hasn’t changed all that much over the years, but the threat of punishment is sometimes what is required in order to guarantee some sort of management. This law and most of the anti-bullying legislation I’ve seen in this country is only as an afterthought directed towards changing the bully’s M.O. Its more designed to make the authority figures more cognizant of the prevalence of the behaviours, and to give them the tools they need to recognize it and the authority to act on it when they see it. There will be those who will sneer at it — they are usually the first ones in the office when their precious kid or grandkid is on the receiving end. And there really is very little to say to those so out there as to suggest that “unplugging a computer” ends the problem.

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