Our Opinion: House is overreaching with anti-bullying law

Published 2:37 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Daily Herald editorial

The Minnesota House’s unfortunate decision to support a new law regulating how school districts monitor and suppress bullying among students is a near-perfect example of legislative overreaching. It is the kind of law that will produce no practical results but will be a burden on all who are forced to administer it. Its only advantage is that it makes some lawmakers look like they’re “doing something.”

Unhappy with the relatively simple state law condemning bullying, the DFL-controlled House has approved a much more involved bill which regulates how schools must attempt to prevent bullying. The trouble is that there is no good evidence these kinds of laws effect significant change in social behavior. What is clear is it will cost millions upon millions of dollars to implement, will distract school leaders from the job of educating young people and will remove from local control yet another aspect of school management.

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There is not a school district in Minnesota which lacks an anti-bullying policy and there are very few districts which don’t now provide students education and training on bullying. It’s a hot issue that local school boards and administrators have worked hard to address. They don’t need the state to pile on more regulations (without, by the way, providing any money to pay for the extra work).

Legislators love to burnish their resumes with bills like this one, which sound good to voters who won’t look past superficial labels or claims that “we made strides to stop bullying.” The reality, however, is that these measures accomplish very little except to increase the size of the state bureaucracy and the cost to taxpayers. Bullying is deplorable. But so is bad legislation.