Helena – Governor Steve Bullock was joined by Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, Rep. Kimberly Dudik, and students April 21 as he signed the Bully Free Montana Act into law at Jefferson School. The law directs local school districts to develop a process that students and families can follow to report and address bullying in their schools.
“As a father, I believe that when students enter the classroom, it should be a safe and supportive environment where they can focus on learning, without fear of bullying,” Bullock said of the law. “Montana has finally joined the rest of our nation in recognizing that this is an issue that must be addressed.”
Efforts to pass a bullying prevention law began in 2005, but have thus far been unsuccessful. While he served as Attorney General, Bullock and Juneau worked together to support similar legislation. With the passage of this law, Montana is the final state to put into law bullying prevention legislation.
“I appreciate that the legislature passed the Bully Free Montana Act. Every child deserves to feel secure, valued, and surrounded by adults they trust at school,” said Superintendent Denise Juneau. “A positive school climate is the foundation to a quality learning environment. This law moves us in that direction.”
Under the Bully Free Montana law, bullying is defined as repeated harassment, intimidation or hazing, threatening, insulting or demeaning acts or written communication. These actions can be physical, relational, or cyber acts.
“I was honored to carry this bill on behalf of Montana students, who should be able to learn free from bullying and intimidation,” Dudik said. “This law will ensure that students who face bullying have a place to turn and a process to fix the problem.”
Nearly 70 percent of Montana third graders indicated they believe that bullying is a problem in their schools. In addition, one in four high school students reported having been bullied on school property within the last year, and 18 percent being the victim of cyber bullying.