Local officials, parents and bullying victims urged Governor Jerry Brown to sign anti-bullying legislation at a press conference held at Garvey Middle School Thursday morning.
“It is estimated that approximately 160,000 students in the United States skip school each day in order to avoid bullying, said , D-Monterey Park, in a prepared statement. “ Not only does this epidemic adversely affect the performance and well-being of our students, it also hurts our school districts fiscally in the form of revenue losses that result from absences."
Eng authored the bill, which is sponsored by the California State PTA. Governor Brown has until Oct. 9 to sign the bill, according to Eng.
The bill, AB 1156, would:
- Clarify the existing definition of bullying
- Require school officials to undergo training to prevent bullying
- Make it easier for a student who has been the target of bullying to transfer to another school district.
Eng told Patch about his own experience being bullied and sophomore Tabitha Bowles spoke about getting so severely bullied—to the point of a concussion—at the San Gabriel Unified School District when she was 11 years old that she transferred to the and has undergone years of therapy.
Bowles, who has since started an anti-bullying organization called Kids Speak Up, said she and her parents approached Eng about drawing up a bill.
Eng said he had low self esteem, didn’t want to go to school and got bad grades as a result of physical bullying he experienced that started in 7th grade and continued for three or four years afterward. In one instance, Eng was trapped in a school locker by bullies.
“To this day it causes me severe claustrophobic episodes, so it does last many, many decades later,” Eng told Patch.
The bill would have little fiscal impact, said Eng, since he hopes most of the cost would come from schools' existing public safety budgets.
"There may be a thought that school districts can't afford implementing this," said Garvey Elementary School District Board Clerk Bob Bruesch. "We’re here to say to the governor that school districts can't afford not having this legislation passed."