A state legislator will propose an anti-bullying law in the name of Ty Field, an 11-year-old Perkins boy who committed suicide after reportedly being bullied by classmates.
Rep. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, made the announcement after hosting a public hearing at the state Capitol on bullying in schools.
“It’s time we get proactive instead of reactive,” said Ty’s dad, Kirk Smalley.
“Bullying is not an Oklahoma problem, it’s not an American problem, but it’s a worldwide problem,” said Smalley, who spoke at the hearing. “The world is ready for a change. It’s ready for it. Its children are dying for it — mine did.”
On May 13, Ty committed suicide at his Perkins home. Friends and family say it was because he was being bullied at school.
Since Ty’s death, Kirk Smalley has become an advocate for more anti-bullying programs. On Wednesday, he was joined by dozens more in the State House Chambers looking for solutions.
“Oklahoma needs to take a stand against bullying in our schools,” said Janet Peery, chief executive officer of the Oklahoma City YWCA. “It is more prevalent now than ever before.”
Some schools are producing good efforts and keeping parents informed, but such efforts need to extend statewide, said Gayle Jones, director of Safe and Healthy Schools for the state Education Department.
“The scars of bullying last forever,” Jones said. “Bullying behavior is learned and it can be unlearned.”
Pittman said she pulled together Wednesday’s meeting to start formulating ideas for legislation, which likely will be called something similar to “The Ty Field’s Anti-bullying Bill of Rights.”
Ideas floated at the meeting included changing schools’ zero-tolerance policy on violence, mandatory yearly teacher training, student mediation programs and after-school programs.
“We need to give it some backbone,” Smalley said. “We need to give it some teeth.”
IF YOU GO
The state Education Department is hosting the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Conference in Oklahoma City.
• What: A free conference with all-day training sessions on substance abuse, bullying, mental health and violence prevention, followed by a summit for parents and grandparents.
• When: The conference is Nov. 5. Training lasts from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The parent and grandparent summit is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
• Where: Clarion Meridian Hotel and Convention Center, 737 S Meridian Ave.
• Information: More information and registration is available at www.sde.state.ok.us.
AT A GLANCE
Bullying in Oklahoma schools
Students bullied, resulting in physical injuries
• 2008-09: 265
• 2009-10: 648
Students bullied without physical injuries
• 2008-09: 10,951
• 2009-10: 15,319
Teachers and staff bullied, resulting in physical injuries
• 2008-09: 40
• 2009-10: 68
Teachers and staff bullied without physical injuries
• 2008-09: 1,392
• 2009-10: 1,867
SOURCE: GAYLE JONES, DIRECTOR OF SAFE & HEALTHY SCHOOLS
FOR STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT,
FROM SELF-REPORTED SCHOOL INCIDENT DATA