All student deserve a safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environment. Iowa’s anti-bullying law was passed in 2007 and was the success of five years of education efforts by Iowa Safe Schools. While Iowa’s anti-bullying law provides a foundation for success, there remains a need for additional legislation and resources to provide safe schools for all students. In particular, legislation will need to make clear the importance of resolving bullying situations in schools and place consequences on school districts, administrators, and other staff who fail to protect kids from bullying behaviors. Bad actors should not have a free pass when it comes to protecting students from abuse.
Legislation should also ensure that schools have the resources and tools necessary to stop bullying behaviors. Funds continue to be cut from school districts which means that fewer and fewer schools will have the adequate number of school counselors and programming to prevent and intervene in bullying situations. Iowa needs to create a grant program for school districts to apply for funds through the Iowa Department of Education and support school climate and culture activities that will prevent bullying behaviors. A grant program will ensure that there is accountability and innovation in this work.