Jonathan posted earlier today about a horrible bullying incident in Massachusetts that led to the suicide of a child. He connected such incidents to the encouraging legislation sponsored by Sen. Diane Black and Rep. Bill Dunn to make school bullying policies consistent and effective.
While I'm not going to pretend that we've always agreed with these legislators, I have to say that we have praised their work for this bill in our emails and on this blog. But what strikes me is that I am completely missing any praise for this legislation on the right. I readily admit my research has not been as thorough as it should be. I'm glad conservatives are moving this legislation, but where are the public conservative voices backing it?
This issue is not merely one of sentiment. It hits issues of student attendance and performance as well as the health and well being of children. And if you don't like looking at issues from the "It's for the children" point of view, consider this. There is a huge liability issue. Local school systems don't have the money to defend bullying lawsuits.
Now I'm going to go down memory lane for a minute. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s as I did, you probably remember those goofy after-school specials that dealt with issues like bullying. Do you remember how they went? The whole drama of a bullied child wanting to learn to defend him- or herself and then sappy lessons about how to diffuse the conflict and make friends, sprinkled with a bit about the bully often not having self-esteem. Why did it take us so long to figure out that school officials ought to step in and make schools safe for children? Why did we not realize sooner that the damage done by bullying is the result of a lack of leadership by adults in authority?
The fact that progressives and conservatives can agree on this legislation says a lot for how far we've come on this issue in just a few years. But it would be good to see some public backing for this bill on the right. It ought to be touted as a conservative achievement.