Anti-bullying policy added for school safety
Earlier this year, the West Virginia Legislature passed the School Access Safety Act to address the physical security of public schools.
Governor Joe Manchin said the act will help make our schools safer by focusing on securing school facilities and ensuring their logistical capabilities before and during an emergency. However, in the wake of the April 16 tragedy at Virginia Tech, he said it is equally important to focus on people and behaviors. As a result, Manchin directed the School Building Authority to include an anti-bullying component in its implementation of the School Access Safety Act.
"A safe learning environment is fundamental to a good education system," Manchin said. "The events at Virginia Tech have shown us that we must look closely at all of our levels of learning, from elementary schools to college campuses, to see what else can and should be done to ensure the security of our students."
"Research from the U.S. Secret Service and the Centers for Disease Control show that many students who commit school violence have themselves been victims of bullying and that bullying contributed to their decision to commit violence. So, the preventionof bullying is one essential part of a larger strategy to create a positive school climate and decrease the likelihood of school violence," the governor said.
National surverys also indicate that a majority of teachers say bullying and intimidation are serious problems in schools. Schools report more difficulty with school bullying than with any other single student discipline problem. And national reports indicate that, in recent years as many as one of every 20 students has stayed home from school because they were afraid for their safety.
West Virginia has laws and policies that prohibit bullying. The Department of Education's anti-bullying policy is one of five cited as "comprehensive" by the Education Commission of the States.
My goal is to stregthen the implementation of these anti-bullying policies by integrating them with the School Access Safety initiative so that our students and our teachers can feel confident that West Virginia is doing everything possible to keep them safe and secure," Manchin said.