Family Petitions Lawmakers For an Anti-Bullying Law Part 3
By Carmen Montes, Reporter / Spanish Webcast Anchor - email
A Lincoln family is petitioning lawmakers to create an anti–bullying law following the brutal attack of an eighth grader off school grounds, where the schools, and their policies on bullying, have no jurisdiction.
The bill is called Frida's Law, named after the victim of a bullying incident.
Frida continues to be scared, after she was attacked by a classmate on her way home from school.
"I was told by my brothers that I shouldn't be scared. I try to hide my makeup, I tried to hide my bruises with makeup, I didn't want to go to school with bruises all over my face,” Frida Aguilera de la Torre said about her routine when getting ready to go back to school.
Inspired by Frida's story, state senators are currently working on a proposal for the Legislature.
"Initially what we are looking at how to find some way to say to those young people, 'this is inappropriate behavior and you are going to have to pay some kind of price for that,'" offered state Sen. Al Davis.
"Frida's Law is basically a law that will implement or create a criminal offense that is called bullying," explains Thomas Inkeelar, Frida's attorney.
In 2011, LB123 -- a cyber–bullying bill -- failed. But the state does have a bullying law in place. "By the Department of Education requirement, every school district in the state of Nebraska has adopted an anti–bullying policy,” said state Sen. Jim Scheer.
"Right now we are in a lot of discussion phases as to what to do with it. One of the things we had talked about and decided we really didn't think was appropriate, was to have it be a felony,” said Davis.
"We need to get some type of intervention in those children's lives and some counseling so that they understand what they were doing wrong," Scheer said.
Since Frida's attack happened off school grounds on her way home, where does that leave her? Frida's mother Dolores said, "They can't do anything, they can't."
Davis said, "Had it happened on school grounds the school would've been in charge of it. It happened in the community, on the city streets, so the school has no jurisdiction over that."
The family is afraid of another attack on Frida since she still attends school with her aggressor.
"I know she has the right to go to school to get education, but my daughter has the right to be safe at the school, too," shared Dolores.
Senator Davis says he supports Frida's Law as be remembers how it was during his own childhood.
"Well having seen it and being a spectator in that behavior and knowing what I know today and I look back and say how cruel that was, that those of us who were sort of standing there let that go on without standing up for the person -- we were probably scared ourselves," he said.
The bill could be signed as early as next spring and both senators say they believe it will be well received. Sen. Scheer says he hopes that it will also be widely accepted by the state and its residents and becomes something to be very proud of.