The California Endowment issues statements commending the bipartisan cosponsors and Governor Brown for signing AB 1156 & AB 9-"Crucial Steps" to address the bullying epidemic.
The California Endowment President and CEO Robert K. Ross, M.D. and Board Chair Tessie Guillermo released the following statements regarding today's announcement that Governor Jerry Brown signed both Assembly Bill 1156, which adds bullying prevention into school safety plans, and Assembly Bill 9 (Seth’s Law). Dedicated to Seth Walsh, one of the many students who chose to take his own life in last year’s rash of teen suicides provoked by bullying, AB 9 requires schools to address and act on bullying. They will be provided with a framework of options for how to do so, however, the bill purposefully does not dictate what principals and educators should do with bullies, but allows them to explore proven measures that would rehabilitate bullies and solve the core problems in lieu of harsher measures of expulsion or suspension that avoid the issue and can create long term problems in their community.
Tessie Guillermo, Board Chair of The California Endowment said, “At The California Endowment, we believe that there are healthier and smarter ways for dealing with bullies that don’t create long term problems. We need to recognize that while bullying and intolerance are indeed unacceptable, a kid who bullies may be frantically waving a red flag for help and support. He must be accepted even as his behavior is rejected.”
“We can’t lose sight of the importance of preventing bullying through programs and policies that don’t just enforce the rules, but also address what causes bullying in the first place. The same approaches that help prevent bullying also address other school discipline issues, including the overuse of suspensions and expulsion, that affect the physical and emotional safety of children and schools," said Robert K. Ross, M.D. President and CEO of The California Endowment. He added, "On behalf of The California Endowment, I commend Governor Brown for signing AB 1156 and AB 9, which will be crucial steps toward guaranteeing California’s children can learn in a safe environment.”
Passage of AB 9 was led by principal author Assemblymember Mariko Yamada and signed into law with bipartisan support from coauthors: Assembly Members Allen, Buchanan, Gatto, Gordon, Hall, Ma, John A. Pérez, V. Manuel Pérez, and Skinner as well as Senators Kehoe, Leno, and Yee.
As part of our statewide Health Happens in Schools campaign, The California Endowment will be dedicating time, attention and resources to working with school officials, parents, and young people to thoughtfully address bullying—and responses to bullying. Not only can we can learn from the pain suffered by Seth Walsh, Tyler Clementi, and Billy Lucas, but we can help prevent others from suffering similar pain by developing policies that teach our kids rather than blindly punish them.