RICHMOND-- The Virginia House of Delegates gave initial approval Monday to a proposed state law that for the first time would spell out a legal definition for bullying.
The law would define bullying as, Any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma.
The bill also includes cyber-bullying on social media sites and excludes ordinary teasing, horseplay and arguments.
Kendall Clark, who serves as a Hampton Roads presenter for the national anti-bullying campaign Rachel’s Challenge, praised the house panel’s action.
“I think that’s great because they realize there is a serious problem with students being scared to go to school, “ Clark said. “A lot of people don’t realize that 160,000 students a day skip school because of fear of humiliation, fear of being picked on, teased, or made fun of. So, I believe it’s great the state is actually saying this is a problem, this is something we need to address.”
The House Education Committee passed House Bill 1871 by a vote of 18 to 3.
Hampton Roads lawmakers Bob Tata and Chris Stolle of Virginia Beach and Daun Hester of Norfolk voted in favor of the bill.
Delegate Brenda Pogge, who represents James City, York and Newport News, voted no.
The measure now goes to the floor of the full House Delegates.