Colorado lawmakers consider statewide bullying prevention education

DENVER — The Cherry Creek School District is still reeling from the suicide of a 10-year-old girl. Bullying led to the girl’s death, according to her parents.

Cyberbullying is reaching epidemic proportions and action is needed before more children take their lives, according to experts.

In Colorado, there is nothing statewide that directly requires courses on bullying prevention even as suicide rates continue to climb.

“Instead of it leveling off or lessening — it still seems to be growing,” Republican State Sen. Kevin Priola said.

Priola is responsible for legislation that awards grant money to school districts to create bullying prevention programs.

Part of the comprehensive education is aimed at teaching kids to speak up when someone is being bullied.

Just more than a dozen school districts in the state receive the grant money, including the Cherry Creek School District.

“All school districts are required to have a safe school plan,” said Adam Collins with the Colorado Department of Education. “Within that safe school plan has to be a policy on bullying prevention and education.”

But the safe school requirements do not establish mandatory curriculum.

“We need to really do an in-depth analysis in reference to — are the programs we currently have in place working,” Democratic State Sen. Rhonda Fields said.

That analysis could result in a bullying prevention class within statewide curriculum every student would be required to take.

“I’m sure those discussions will happen among my colleagues and myself as the session starts in about a month and a half,” Priola said.

School districts are required to report bullying and other issues to the state, but there’s no way to know if most of the cases are being reported.

State officials said more than half of all eight-grade students in Colorado have reported bullying at least once in their academic careers.

RESOURCES: How to talk to your kids about bullying and identify the signs