Local lawmakers in Washington, D.C. on June 22 enacted what activists are calling the nation’s “most robust” anti-bulling law.

Surrounded by students, teachers and anti-bullying advocates, Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed The Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 into law at the Wilson Building.

The measure would protect children from hostile behavior in D.C. schools, libraries, playgrounds and other child-centered public venues.

“Today we are taking another bold and concrete step towards eradicating bullying in the District,” Gray said. “There is much more work to do, but I can’t think of a more noble or impactful goal than to end the bullying of our youth and continue to create environments where our young people learn and thrive in health and safety.”

With Friday’s signing, the measure goes to Congress for a 30-day review. If approved, the District would become the 17th jurisdiction that prohibits bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The law would also establish a task force comprised of District agencies and anti-bullying and community advocates to come up with a set of anti-intimidation policies that would be adopted and implemented by all city agencies that serve youth.

“In addition to researching best practices nationwide, the Task Force will investigate aspects of bullying unique to the District to develop comprehensive solutions that are applicable specifically to youth in our city,” said Gustavo Velasquez, director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights, which is the agency coordinating the work of the Task Force. “The diverse stakeholders on the Task Force provide the varied perspectives necessary to build a District-wide solution to the problem of bullying.”

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO