The Human Services chair, Rep. John Mizuno (Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights, Fort Shafter), announced today in response to President Obama’s anti-bullying message that he will introduce a bill which requires the department of education to adopt rules to prohibit school bullying and cyber bullying.
Today, President Obama provided a taped message in the wake of several recent suicides by young people who were being bullied or taunted for being gay. In the three minute-video message President Obama provides, in part, “We’ve got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage, that it’s some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. As a nation we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness… ”
According to Rep. Mizuno, “To denigrate another person to elevate yourself represents hatred, bigotry and bullying. Hawaii is not immune to bullying or cyber bullying and therefore I agree with the President’s anti-bullying message and will introduce model anti-bullying legislation for schools to adhere to.”
Rep. Mizuno’s bill draft provides that schools shall have a procedure for students and parents to confidentially report to school officials incidents of bullying or cyber bullying, a formal process for the documentation of reported incidents of bullying or cyber bullying, a formal investigation process, disciplinary procedures for students who committed bullying or cyber bullying and a procedure that sets forth consequences for submitting false reports of incidents of bullying or cyber bullying.
According to Mizuno, “Bullying and cyber bullying is a problem in Hawaii. Bullying means aggressive behavior or intentional harm directed at another student and committed by an individual or group of students repeatedly over time. This includes physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, taunting, and ridicule. Cyber bullying means to communicate electronically, via computer system, blog, cellular telephone, facsimile, text message, online community website such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube or similar telecommunication mechanism for harassment, intimidation, taunting, and ridicule. We need to properly address bullying and cyber bullying in our state.”
Rep. Mizuno’s bill was introduced at the 2011 legislative session. Today it is now state law.