Paul Jacob

The New Year has jumped off to an auspicious start, with some of the nation’s thorniest problems affecting young people seeing astounding new solutions:

•   Bullies have been banned in New Jersey
•   San Francisco political leaders have created the conditions for kids to finally get the carrots and broccoli they’ve been craving, and
•   The tragedy of bicycle violence, fed by a lack of any system of government regulation, may also be coming to an end.

A new New Jersey law is certain to end forever the act of bullying. The legislation, which establishes an Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, was signed by Governor Chris Christie this month after passing by a 78-1 vote in the state’s Assembly and a unanimous vote in the Senate, completely routing pro-bullying interests.

A news release by one supporting group enthuses that “The era of vagueness and loopholes in anti-bullying laws is over, and hope for our children has begun.”

The statute mandates that all New Jersey teachers, administrators and school board members — whether they are currently bullies or not — undergo anti-bullying training. It also requires each school district to have a bullying coordinator and every individual school to employ an anti-bullying specialist, who will lead an anti-bullying team comprised of the principal, a teacher and a parent.

This helpful junta is also required to meet twice a year to examine the situation in their school. Unfortunately, the 8,575-word bill doesn’t stipulate where they will meet, what time or what refreshments will be served. So, clearly, legislators and community activists have more work ahead hammering out the critical details.

To fill all these new job openings, the number of college students majoring in Anti-Bullying Arts is expected to rise considerably.

This Bill of Rights also imposes strict timelines for reporting and adjudicating instances of bullying, and furthermore, wisely demands that there be a resolution of the situation. Why didn’t anyone think of that before? After all, we should absolutely resolve to resolve these cases.

Under the law, there will be year-round anti-bullying instruction appropriate to each grade level and an annual Week of Respect with anti-bullying lectures . . . and, in due course, games and rides. Even students at public universities must receive a copy of their school’s anti-bullying policies within seven days of the start of the fall semester.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.