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Governor signs law that requires parents of bully and victim to be notified

WRTV Investigates has been tracking this problem for years
Bullying.PNG
Posted at 7:10 AM, May 05, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Eric Holcomb has signed into law a bill that will require schools to better inform parents when their child has been involved in a bullying situation.

WRTV Investigates has been tracking this problem for years.

Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, authored HEA 1483 which require schools to investigate bullying and inform the parents of the victim within three days and the parents of the accused bully within five days.

“I'm very happy that Gov. Holcomb signed this bill into law and look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on children and their families,” said Smith in a statement to WRTV. “Too many children and teenagers die by suicide, and I truly believe this legislation has the power to save lives. I'm thankful to my colleagues in both chambers and the Governor for taking this important step for Hoosier children."

READ | Community leaders address cyberbullying

A Covington Indiana teen, Terry Badger III, died by suicide and his family blamed bullying.

PREVIOUS | Family says 13-year old boy died by suicide suffered relentless bullying

Badger’s family testified in support of HEA 1483 and Smith said the law will be named after Badger.

"Too often, young people take their own lives because they're being bullied,” said Vernon in a statement to WRTV. “They feel like there's no escape. The most recent example of this tragedy is Terry Badger III, whom this bill is named for. There is nothing we can do bring this young man back or ease the pain his family feels in his absence, but my hope is that this legislation will prevent more children from feeling suicide is their only way out.”

Under HEA 1483, in extreme cases, the victim or the bully can be transferred to another school at the victim’s request.

“We need to make sure kids feel that schools are safe places,” said Smith. “They shouldn't not want to go to school because they are getting harassed."

READ | Lawrence Twp. parent makes son buy shoes for classmate he made fun of

WRTV Investigates found Covington Middle School, where Badger attended, reported zero bullying incidents to the Indiana Department of Education for the 2021-2022 school year.

WRTV Investigates found many schools are not reporting bullying cases.

BREAKDOWN OF 5,103 BULLYING INCIDENTS (2021-22)

  • 1,952 Verbal
  • 1,616 Physical
  • 543 Social/Relational
  • 473 Electronic/Written
  • 519 Combination Incidents

WRTV Investigates ran the numbers and found 50% of schools reported zero incidents in every single category.
The state has very specific criteria as to what can be considered bullying including that the behavior is repeated and has a “substantially detrimental effect” on the targeted student’s physical or mental health.

Prompted by a WRTV Investigation that found many Indiana schools reported zero incidents of bullying, in 2018, the Governor signed a new law that allows the Indiana Department of Education to audit schools if parents suspect they’re not being truthful about bullying.

PREVIOUS | Governor signs new bullying law after WRTV finds schools misreported

However, IDOE has not conducted a single audit since the law took effect in 2018.

IDOE created this new Bullying Discrepancy Report Form for you to submit any concerns when it comes to your school’s bullying numbers.