‘Mallory’s Law’ makes NJ’s tough anti-bullying laws even tougher
New Jersey's home to one the toughest anti-bullying laws in the nation, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say it doesn't go far enough.
Named in memory of a 12-year-old girl from Rockaway Township who committed suicide in 2017 after suffering through bullying, the bipartisan Mallory's Law was introduced Wednesday into the state Legislature.
"Quite frankly, I think we have to put a little bit more teeth in the existing laws that we do have," state Sen. Joe Pennachio, R-Morris, told New Jersey 101.5. "We just want to add some accountability, some transparency, and we want to just standardize the procedure because what we don't want is that these issues sort of get lost in the shuffle."
Pennachio said the avenues of bullying have already evolved so much in the time since New Jersey's Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights was enacted in 2011.
Specifically, Mallory's Law would require that all accounts of bullying be forwarded to the executive county superintendent, and the parents of students involved in the incident be notified. Proven acts of bullying would be added to a student's permanent record.
Under the measure, bullies on their third offense would be required to attend anti-bullying training with their parents. Law enforcement would also be notified to see if any crimes were committed. And parents of a proven bully could face civil liability in certain cases, specifically when they demonstrate "blatant disregard of supervising their child."
"Many people say that bullying doesn't happen or that kids just need to toughen up," said state Sen. Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex. "I can tell you that bullying is still happening in our schools, and it is causing an enormous amount of psychological distress to our students."
Before she took her own life in June 2017, Mallory Grossman was bullied on school grounds and harassed via Snapchat and text messages. Her parents, Seth and Dianne, turned their grief into action and formed Mallory's Army, a national movement to save other children from the devastating effects of bullying.
The Grossmans have been working with legislators on this proposed law since early summer 2018, according to Pennacchio.
"Mallory Rose Grossman's story will help others," Mallory's parents said. "Her journey has been the inspiration for many in New Jersey to bring change to the way bullying issues are handled in and out of school."
The family of an 11-year-old Paterson girl who recently took her own life blames bullying that occurred at school.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.