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Burns’ bill would hold parents accountable for child’s bullying

Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, introduced legislation Wednesday that would hold parents accountable for a child’s repeated bullying and require schools to more effectively track, investigate and report bullying and cyberbullying incidents.

Burns had announced his plan for the legislation in August, during a press conference at Penn Cambria School District in Cresson.

On Wednesday, Burns formally introduced his pair of bills on National Stop Bullying Day, highlighting the need for students, parents and school officials to work together to eliminate bullying.

“Schools should be places of learning, not places of fear,” a statement attributed to Burns read. “The only way we can put an end to this scourge is to work together. These measures will make our schools safer places for our kids and put the focus where it needs to be — on learning.”

Burns said House Bill 1936 would outline the role of parents in preventing and remedying bullying and hold them accountable if their child repeatedly bullies others.

Burns’ other bill, House Bill 1935, titled the Pennsylvania Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, spells out the rights of students, parents and schools as they relate to bullying.

Both bills include an enhanced definition of bullying to clearly differentiate between joking around and true bullying by focusing on words and actions that are motivated by a students’ distinguishing characteristics, such as race, religion, gender or disability. It also includes retaliation for reporting bullying as an act of bullying itself.

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