BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota senators on Thursday approved requiring schools to take new steps to prevent bullying, despite arguments that the effort was a time-wasting example of the "nanny state."
The measure, which the Senate approved, 36-10, mandates that school districts adopt anti-bullying policies by July 2012, and make training available to teachers and school aides in bullying prevention.
North Dakota is one of only a handful of states that doesn't have an anti-bullying law for public schools, said Sen. Richard Marcellais, D-Belcourt.
Sens. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, and Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, spoke against the measure.
Larsen said children need to be taught how to handle bullying, rather than ordering schools to focus on bullying prevention. The legislation "rewards kids for thinking and acting like victims. It will promote a victim mentality and handicap kids for life, not just after the school bell rings," Larsen said.
Sitte said anti-bullying instruction and training would waste valuable school time and called it "just another example of nanny-state government run amok."
"From the beginning of time, people have picked on each other. Call it bullying, call it what you will," Sitte said. "People do need to learn to stand up for themselves."
The bill now goes to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his review. It is HB1465. The House is considering a separate anti-bullying bill, SB2167, which was sponsored by Marcellais.