Beating back bullies: New law holds schools accountable

Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 7:14pm

3.2 million.

That's the number of kids that are bullied every day. It's a national problem and it's one kids face right here in Louisiana.

"You can never get that feeling out of your stomach and your heart of how bad it hurt," says Emily Nelson.

How bad it hurts to be bullied.

"It was every day."

For Emily, it all started when she was 12 years old. She's 14 now and the bullying continues.

"All the hateful words," she says, "it just hurts so bad."

With the pain comes the questions:

"Why me?" she asks. "When would this stop? But--I didn't know. So what's next, what's going to happen next?"

Act 861 is next. It went into effect January 1, 2013, thanks to Senator Rick Ward.

"You always want to know that your children, or anyone's children, are safe," Senator Ward says. "Some of the parents and students that we've talked to said, look, we would go and tell the school, whether it be the teacher, the principal or anybody involved, and we kind of felt like things fell through the cracks."

Senator Ward wanted to change that. There are a few pages to flip through but it all starts with a definition.

"A lot of people didn't really know what bullying was," he says, "so we started off with just drafting a good definition of bullying."

Senator Ward says the next step for this Act was to create a plan for the school.

"These are the steps we have to take at minimum to make sure the situation is addressed. I don't know that any law is ever perfect but this gives us a start, I feel like it moves us in the right direction."

And so does Emily.

"Now that I hear about this new law, I really think that things will change--hopefully," she says. "I think it'll be a lot better, a lot stronger, a lot safer--for the community and the school."

Senator Ward says there's still a long way to go. "It would be great one day if we could get rid of bullying all together."

Until then, a little help from the state and a little hope from Emily.

"You can go to school every day and you can hear all those words and you can see everything and feel everything but you hold your head up high and you smile and you go in with a great attitude," she says, "no matter what happens."

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