WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a long tradition of advocating for and protecting the rights of children;
WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency reported in 2009 that 18 percent of Pennsylvania students reported being hit, kicked, pushed, or shoved at school;
WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency also reported in 2009 that 21 percent of Pennsylvania students reported having other students take their money or damage their things;
WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2009 that 18 percent of Pennsylvania high school students were bullied on school property;
WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2009 that 13 percent of Pennsylvania high school students seriously considered suicide;
WHEREAS, student bullying in schools interferes with student learning and achievement and threatens the safety, mental health, and physical health of Pennsylvania students everyday;
WHEREAS, society has evolved in such a way that communication technologies provide an unprecedented arsenal of bullying weapons (commonly referred to as “cyberbullying”) which include use of internet social media outlets, email and cell phone texting;
WHEREAS, Pennsylvania's current anti-bullying protections fail to adequately address bullying, leaving students especially vulnerable to harassment based on characteristics such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, and physical, mental, emotional or learning disability.
WHEREAS, Pennsylvania House Bill 156, Printer's Number 251, commonly referred to the Pennsylvania Safe Schools (PASS) Act, seeks to define “bullying” as any written, verbal or physical act or conduct, including by electronic means, that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following: (1) placing a reasonable student in fear of physical harm to the student's person or property; (2) causing a substantially detrimental effect on a reasonable student's physical or mental health; or (3) substantially interfering with a reasonable student's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided by a school;
WHEREAS, the PASS Act would provide bullying prevention and remediation tools for all teachers and school staff on incidents of bullying; establish reporting requirements and accountability so that all incidents of bullying are adequately addressed; invite parents and the community to support the adoption of anti-bullying policies and define these protections so all students are protected from bullying;
WHEREAS, the PASS Act extends protection to children who are bullied in schools based on race; color; religion; national origin, ancestry or ethnicity; sexual orientation; physical, mental, emotional or learning disability; gender, gender identity or expression; financial status or physical appearance or based on an association with a person who has or is perceived to have one or more such characteristics;
WHEREAS, the PASS Act's enumerated protected human characteristics, school accountability provisions, and bullying prevention and remediation tools, are essential to this legislation and this resolution would not support any substantial modification of these key provisions.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass, and the Governor sign, House Bill 156, Printer's Number 251, known as the PASS Act, or similar legislation that provides comparable anti-bullying tools for schools and comparable protections for students.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor and Board of Governors take any measures in support of this resolution as are deemed appropriate, including communication of this position to members of the General Assembly, the Governor, the media and the general public.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: July 25, 2013