Colorado lawmakers voted to require the state’s Department of Education to craft new anti-bullying policies on the same day they killed a bill that would have given up to $10,000 to school districts for suicide prevention training.
While some caution against linking suicide to bullying, more anti-bullying tools are needed, reports ChalkBeat. Despite Colorado already having an anti-bullying policy in place for schools, some experts say that the way bullying is handled in schools today isn’t working.
Lawmakers who voted no on the suicide prevention bill cited several reasons, including concern over how the $300,000 to fund school grants would have been raised and a belief that the issue should be handled by family and community members instead.
One in five children report being bulled every year in school, from being shoved or tripped to being called names or made the focus of rumors, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And these numbers only reflect students who come forward. Too many stay silent, frightened to ask for help.
Yet suicide rates among teens are rising, particularly among girls ages 15 to 19, with 305 reported in 1975 to 524 reported in 2015, according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Weaving suicide prevention and anti-bullying tools into health classes — or even school wide — can allow curriculum administrators to bring more awareness to this issue, while also arming educators with tools to help and support students.
SEL training can also build inclusion and respect within classrooms. While there has been some pushback to this curriculum, modeling emotional intelligence in classrooms can help students develop more empathy with each other, equipping them with better tools to express their feelings.