Anti-bullying bill passes committee vote, goes to full Indiana House of Representatives

Bill passed committee 9-0

INDIANAPOLIS - State lawmakers on the House Education Committee heard emotional testimony Monday from a young girl who tried to commit suicide after being bullied at school.

Chelsea Little, 16, spoke in support of an anti-bullying bill requiring the Department of Education to help schools develop bullying prevention programs.

"It started back in 7th grade when I got shoved into lockers and bathroom stalls and got called really, really mean names," Little said.

Her mother, Angela Stagge, said the bullying took place at Clark Pleasant Middle School and Whiteland High School. She's not blaming the schools, saying they didn't have the proper tools to tackle the problem.

"We would be celebrating today if this bill gets passed," Stagge said. "It's very, very important for all those kids and all those kids that don't have a voice anymore."

It took courage today for Little to speak out, but she said she wants to make sure no one else in the state has to walk in her shoes.

"I felt alone, I was depressed," Little said. "I cried myself to sleep every night, and I stayed away from my family and didn't want to explain what was wrong with me. I thought cutting was the answer, and I tried to commit suicide."

Little, and other bullied students, would have a place to turn in school as part of the bill, sponsored by Gregory Porter of Indianapolis. 

"Indiana ranks third in the nation for incidents of electronic bullying and bullying on school property," Porter said.

The bill includes support services for victims and requires school districts to include the number and nature of bullying events in a report every year.

In addition to prevention programs, schools would also need to set up ways to investigate and report bullying. 

The bill cleared the House Education Committee with a 9-0 vote and will now go before the full House.  

"I finally can be a voice for the kids that have committed suicide because I have actually had three of my friends commit suicide due to bullying, and it needs to stop," Little said.

Another bill -- House Bill 1015 -- that would give schools the ability to discipline students for acts against students that occur away from school, like cyber-bullying, also passed with a 5-4 vote.

Some voiced concern about the bill, saying it's too broad and would give schools community policing powers

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