Bill H.R. 1648 IH is a bill in the United States House of Representatives that seeks to address bullying problems in schools. I do not support this bill, as I believe that it would not reduce bullying in schools and would cause unnecessary and harmful administrative burdens and wasting of money.
Although the sponsors of this bill argue that bullying is a major issue, and I agree with that opinion, I do not think that this bill would help the bullying issue in any way. As reported by the School Psychology Review, 86% of anti-bullying programs implemented in schools have had no positive effect – and even sometimes a negative effect – on reports of bullying in the school, while of the 14% that do have a positive effect, those positive effects are usually negligible.
Provision A1 of the bill states that government funded-schools would have to “collect and report information of incidences.” This provision would cause administrative burdens and financial harm. School administrators would have time taken away from education and schools might need to hire additional people to comply with the bullying requirements. To deal with all of the reports of bullying coming in from schools, regional governments would also need to hire more workers. As the average state worker earns $69,913 a year in salary and benefits, this would make the bill extremely expensive to implement.
Provision A3 of the bill states “States agree to provide technical assistance to local schools and agencies involved in the protection of bullying.” This statement is very unclear, but has two possible meanings. One meaning is that only those schools with anti-bullying programs receive technical aid; every school needs and deserves technical aid, and not every school needs a bullying program – as a matter of fact, few or no schools need bullying programs if bullying programs simply do not work. If, on the other hand, this provision means that technical assistance would be provided to anti-bullying programs, I disagree with that also. Technical assistance would require more government workers and be quite expensive, without addressing the real issues. Because bullying is a very emotional and psychological issue, it should be dealt with by human beings, so as to provide a more personal, deeper-reaching effect on students who may be possible bullies, victims, bystanders, or preventers of bullying, and technical assistance from the government would not help with this.
I also disagree with provision B1 of the bill, which states that the bill will be paid for with “Funds used from lottery, lotto ticket sales.” All lottery and lotto money is already being spent. What programs will this require being cut? In addition, after discounting amounts doled out in prizes and payment to lottery employees, many states do not earn enough money from their lotteries to support such an enormous cost, and eight states in the United States do not have a lottery. States that cannot pay for this bill from their lottery and lotto money would only be able to fund this bill with provision B2, “Funds raised from 3% tax on soda, candy, movie tickets, video games, and all shoes.” That is a large tax and it would be paid primarily by middle class and poorer people.
In all, this bill attempts to solve a real problem with the wrong solution, attempts to pay for the wrong solution in the wrong way, and is definitely not a bill that should be passed.
Joshua Moriarty, Age 13, Grade 8, Hunter College High School, Gold Key