Two bills making their way through the Missouri House would target bullying in public schools across the state.
State Representative Sue Allen (R, Town and Country) is sponsoring one of them. It would require all K-12 schools to issue a statement prohibiting bullying and to install procedures for reporting and investigating incidents of bullying.
Allen says it's crucial to teach kids early that bullying is wrong.
"You do it in maybe 4th or 5th or 6th grade, so kiddos start maybe with less harmful innuendos with other children," Allen told reporters at a press conference at the State Capitol.
Her bill would also legally define the term cyber-bullying as, "the transmission of a communication, including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound, or image by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone, or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager."
The other bill specifically lists categories of students who are targeted for bullying, based on race, sexual orientation, religion and others. It's sponsored by State Representative Sara Lampe (D, Springfield).
"What we know right now is that kids are being bullied in these areas," Lampe said. "I think it's important for us to have those (categories) enumerated in our school policies, not only to protect kids, but also to protect our schools."
Lampe says her bill would also ban bullying based on disability and physical appearance. Allen's bill does not list categories of victims.