On any number of measures, Minnesota is a great place for kids. MNAAP continues to advocate, making our state even better for children. One area for improvement: Minnesota has the least comprehensive, weakest anti-bullying measures in the nation.
MNAAP was one of many organizations in support of anti-bullying legislation during the 2013 session. However, it didn't pass out of committee. The proposal would have required school districts to implement robust anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies to protect students, provide training to staff, and establish reporting protocols. We are hopeful that this legislation will be re-introduced next year.
A 2010 study by the Departments of Health and Education showed that 13% of Minnesota students reported being bullied at least once a week. Bullying is a factor in all too many teen suicides. Teachers and school staff need tools and resources on bullying and prevention. Students who are bullied struggle in school and can't give their full attention to learning. Every child deserves an educational environment that is free from harassment, bullying, and threat.
As pediatricians, we advocate for our patients in the examining room, clinic, and hospital. But we need to advocate for them at the Capitol, too. Legislators are interested in hearing from constituents, particularly community leaders, such as pediatricians. We know we'll never be able to prevent every incidence of bullying. But our patients deserve a law that gives students, parents, and teachers the tools to set the stage for a safe environment for all to grow to their full potential.