The lone dissenter of a Kentucky bill that would establish a statewide definition of bullying says the legislation is too broad. Kentucky's State House passed HB 316 last week.
Under that bill, school boards across the commonwealth would be required to institute anti-bullying rules along with procedures to investigate bullying reports.
Advocate Susan Guess, who founded the Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation, backed the bill. Her daughter Morgan testified to the state House in support.
Republican 4th District State Rep. Lynn Bechler cast the only nay out of 95 votes. He says while well-meaning, the bill does not differentiate between young and older students.
“We live in an age where offense seems to be taken when there’s any type of disagreement,” Bechler said. “What would lead anyone to believe that an argument between two children over cultural differences, let’s say religion for example, won’t lead to a charge of bullying?”
Bechler also says bullying is difficult to accurately describe, and there are pre-existing laws already in place.
“It’s kind of like the Supreme Court has said, while you cannot necessarily define pornography, you’ll know it when you see it,” Bechler said. “And I think the same thing goes here. You’ll know bullying when you see it.”
House Bill 316 now waits in the Kentucky Senate, where Republican Senator Danny Carroll of Paducah is a co-sponsor.