New Jersey recently instituted an Anti-Bullying law, forcing schools to be more active in teaching against bullying. The anti-bullying law was put in place to protect students from experiencing something similar to what Tyler Clementi, a Rutger’s student, experienced just before committing suicide. After having his roommate set up a webcam in their shared dorm room to video tape his homosexual activities, Tyler experienced public shame and his resulting actions led to more attention to this horrible phenomenon within public schools.
Philly.com reports that “Advocates say the bullying law, which passed with bipartisan support, is the toughest in the nation.” Apparently it was too rigorous of a legislation that caused too high of a financial stress on the schools. It was just announced that the legislation, that was effectively working to reduce or end bullying in schools, has been ruled unconstitutional because it has failed to supply funding to help carry out the tasks needed to fulfill new requirements.
New Jersey’s law was one of the toughest on bullies and rightfully so. Legislators saw a series of events within the past two years that forced their hand. If they did not respond by passing such a law, it would have appeared that they were endorsing what was happening. And as we all know, they did act. They passed a law that was pro-active and aimed to change society for the better.
As the story is told, it was simply because schools were unable to find creative uses of current money to meet the requirements without additional funding it was revoked. The lack of additional funding was putting a financial stress on schools and shouldn’t be required of them. But, is it really about money? Or is it about reversing legislation that was too progressive?
City and state laws and ordinances change every year. It was this past year that my city passed an ordinance that required landlords to install fireproof doors in any multi-family dwellings. This caused a financial burden on all landlords as they had to pay (out of their own pocket) to make this change. No additional funding was provided and a higher financial burden resulted on landlords because of this new law. Is the law that expresses concern for residents in my city (with respect to fire regulations) unconstitutional because it lacks to provide additional funding? Should it too be ruled unconstitutional?
The simple fact is that while it may have been placing a financial stress on schools, I have difficulty believing that this law was revoked truly for the sake of funding. While a lot of things are indeed motivated by money, perhaps there is something else at work here. It might end up being beneficial for legislators to revisit this law in an attempt to find funding to supplement the regulations, but at what cost? Where will tax-payers feel the burden because funding was taken to meet this regulation?