Ohio lawmakers introduce tough new anti-bullying legislation

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CLEVELAND - October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and two local state lawmakers proposed new legislation this week aiming to stop bullying early and make schools intervene faster.

"I am trying to send a very clear message to anyone who has been a victim of bullying or anyone who is a bully right now that bullying in any way shape or form will not be tolerated in Ohio schools," said State Senator Sandra Williams of Cleveland.

Williams introduced Senate Bills 196 and 197, which create an "aggravated bullying charge for juveniles" and includes a tiered disciplinary approach for dealing with bullying in school.

"There are several steps. The first one is a warning. the second is peer mediation. the third is calling a parent in. An in-school suspension for the fourth violation and an out-of-school suspension for the fifth. The case would be referred to a juvenile prosecutor for the sixth," said Williams.

State Representative Dave Greenspan of Westlake also introduced his own anti-bullying legislation this week.

House Bill 360 would create a mandatory suspension for a student's first bullying offense.

"This law kicks in and says you shall be suspended for up to 10 days, and that's at the discretion of the school as to length of time. But it also says if you are suspended, you are not going to sit at home but must participate in community related activities and you must attend counseling before a bully can return to school," said Greenspan.

The bills were introduced this week and neither has had a hearing yet. Even though they are similar, both legislators are willing to work together to make one effective piece of legislation.