Contact Information 
Capitol Office 
314-C Main Captitol 
P.O. Box 202117
Harrisburg PA 17120-2117
Phone: (717) 787-1117
Fax: (717) 705-1889
Open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

District Offices
1108 Twin Stacks Drive
Dallas, PA 18612
(570) 675-6000
Fax: (570) 255-0133
(800) 278-3930
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

133 West Tioga St., Suite 4
Tunkhannock, PA 18657
(570) 836-4777
Fax: (570) 836-4772
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

email: kboback@pahousegop.com
 
Bullying is much more than throwing a few punches and stealing lunch money. In fact, today’s tech-savvy youth bully in a way that’s much more subtle and pervasive. Nearly 12 percent of all students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 across Pennsylvania said they’ve been bullied through use of the Internet and their cell phones, according to the 2009 Pennsylvania Youth Survey, the most recent statistics compiled by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

The survey indicated that non-physical forms of bullying are the most prevalent among our youth, as more than one half of Pennsylvania students reported that other students tell lies about them or spread false rumors, 43 percent have been called names or teased and more than 30 percent have been left out of things on purpose. Many times teachers, parents, and school staff get involved and resolve the problem in a positive manner. In other instances, the problem festers and has the potential to become a bullying situation.

Today’s youth have more access to online social media sites and carry their own cell phones, which provide gateways to new methods of bullying. That’s why cyber bullying is the new approach, since individuals don’t have to do it face to face.

Unfortunately, four Luzerne County teens ranging between the ages of 13 to 16 have taken their lives over the past week, and police and school officials are investigating whether or not bullying was involved in these deaths.

Enough is enough! I am declaring war against bullying.

I am a co-sponsor of the Pennsylvania Safe Schools Act, which would create an online database, run by the Department of Education, in which school districts would report incidents of bullying. The database would set a deadline on investigations, generate reports and send email updates to school and state officials. It would also mandate all teachers take an online bullying prevention training program every five years.

I also support a piece of anti-cyber bullying legislation that would create a high-level misdemeanor, comparable to simple assault, for impersonating someone else online. There have been several in-state cases involving students impersonating teachers online to harass other students, and others in which students spread false information online through fake websites and texting accounts to ruin reputations of classmates.

This legislation would not impinge First Amendment rights because it would require prosecutors to prove criminal intent by the impersonator to do harm.

While I strongly support these pieces of anti-bullying legislation that have been introduced in the state House, I feel the problem has escalated beyond rules and regulations. You can’t regulate manners, respect, and courtesy, they needed to be taught and emulated. It’s time to specifically shine the light on the problem and involve those groups and agencies that profess to protect our children in one consorted effort.

As a result, I have begun my war by reaching out to Pennsylvania Department of Education, the state PTA, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Pennsylvania State Education Association, Students First PA, and the list will continue. My goal is to connect the coalitions and incentivize schools to operate the best anti-bulling practices.

As a public educator and guidance counselor for 33 years, I know that our schools are immersed in anti-bullying guidelines and, as per the state Department of Education, have and will continue to undertake bully prevention programs. I also know that the problem transcends the classroom and the yellow bus and this also must be addressed. Declaring war is the first step. The next will be developing a joint effort that will span the classroom and evolve into cyber space.

The “war” will raise more awareness about this crucial problem with the goal being a healthier environment where we can live, learn, work and play. No parent should have to see their child victimize another or have their child become a victim of what the word “bully” entails. Let’s not let bullying prevail. We must work together to win this “war.”