Indiana lawmaker fighting back against bullying

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) You’ve heard it time and time again: bullying is a problem among Indiana’s youth. Well, one state lawmaker is taking a stance, creating legislation he hopes will bring true change for all Hoosiers.

Bartholomew Fish says he was bullied years ago, in high school.

“I was an introverted kid, had bad skin, was awkward,” Fish explained. “Yeah, I definitely experienced bullying when I was young.”

Ryan Hatfield

Years later, kids across Indiana are dealing with the same problem. StopBullying.gov said in 2015, 21 percent of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying.

An estimated 16 percent of high school students were bullied online.

State Representative Ryan Hatfield, an Evansville Democrat, said bullying to far to prevalent in Indiana.

“In this state, we have kids committing suicide, contemplating committing suicide,” said Hatfield. “Not only are they harassed at school, when they go home, we’ve opened the floodgates with technology – Facebook, social media.”

Hatfield said he’s already received dozens of calls from concerned parents. It’s why he’s creating legislation to combat bullying, at school, and online.

He wants to make sure Indiana state law keeps up with social media.

“The courts don’t have the authority to grant no contact orders when it’s bullying through social media,” said Hatfield. “We need to provide tools to the courts and parents to provide no contact orders, to keep kids who are being bullied, from bullies.”

Hoosiers had varying degrees of thought on the issue.

Pervis Dansby of Indianapolis told the Indiana State bureau that the legislation was “good.” He added, “I don’t believe in bullying.”

Caroline Griffin said, “I think it’d be a good thing to do research on, prior to putting a law out there.”

Added Fish: “Anyone that’s trying to do something to create some change around that, I think that’s a positive thing.”

Hatfield said he anticipates bipartisan support and hopes the legislation becomes law by the next school year.

For more information on the Indiana Department of Education’s bullying prevention resources, click here. For more information on the United States Department of Health and Human Services resources on dealing with and preventing bullying, click here.