Colo. Considers Anti-Bullying Plan



 In light of the recent California school shooting, the Colorado legislature

is considering an anti-bullying plan, the Associated Press reported March 8.

Authorities have yet to determine what prompted Charles Andrew Williams to

open fire at Santana High School in Santee, Calif., killing two teens and

wounding 13 others. But information has surfaced that Williams was called a

freak by peers and teased about his looks.


Experts say schools can curb teasing and bullying by working harder to change

attitudes. As a result, many school districts are implementing anti-bullying

programs. Experts predict that effective programs could reduce incidents of

bullying and harassment by more than 50 percent.


In addition, the Colorado legislature is drafting a bill that would require

school districts throughout the state to implement some sort of anti-bullying



"It's not something you're going to do in a week," said William Porter, a

psychologist with the 42,000-student Cherry Creek School District in suburban

Denver, Colo. "It may take two or three years of major commitment to get the

kind of climate where kids feel safe."


The Colorado measure resulted from feedback state attorney general Ken

Salazar heard during post-Columbine town meetings. He said complaints about

bullying repeatedly came up during the series of meetings.


"The kids are feeling that the schools aren't doing anything about this,"

Porter said. "The kids who feel there's no one they can go to -- those are

the ones who have the most trouble. That's when you're talking about avenging

or suicide."


Experts say effective anti-bullying programs must include the entire school

community, with specific focus on students who are neither victims nor

bullies. In addition, a school's entire staff should be trained so victimized

students have options when they consider seeking an adult's help.


"We want every kid to have thought about two or three adults they can turn to

-- not just the school counselor," Porter said. "It could be the food-service

person, the bus driver."