New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Law Takes Effect As Students Return To School

FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey students returned to class Tuesday with a new set of rights protecting them from bullies.

With the opening school bell, New Jersey’s anti-bullying bill of rights took effect, forcing districts to investigate complaints and take action.

“It is comprehensive in that it is not just about punishment or discipline,” Fort Lee Superintendent Ray Bandlow said.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: More Protection For Students

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored the law and said it forces schools to act even when bullying extends beyond their doors.

“It’s time that students feel safe; 160,000 stay home every day because they’re afraid to go to school,” Huttle said.

Jennifer Ehrentraut has seen firsthand what years of harassment and bullying can do. Her cousin, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, took his own life after a sexual encounter with another man was streamed on the Internet by his roommate.

“It’s devastating to grow up with someone and for them to be gone for some senseless act,” Ehrentraut told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

“It’s up to each and every one of us, every day, to be nice to each other. (The anti-bullying law) is important because it could be a matter of life or death, possibly save someone’s life.”

State Sen. Barbara Buono sponsored the law and said it has given students faith that this year will be better than the last.

“It requires that a written report be done within the space of one day of the incident being reported to educator,” Sen. Buono told Sloan.

Garden State Equality has launched an anti-bullying hotline. Any student who knows or is a victim of bullying — whether they are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender — are urged to called 1-877-NJBULLY. Lawmakers sponsoring the law said that bullying doesn’t stop after 3 when kids go home. It happens through texting or social media. That’s why they’ve set up the hotline for kids to text or to call.

Ehrentraut said she’ll be one of the people taking calls to make sure kids come to school to learn, and not have to worry about protecting themselves.

“It’s a safe place to call. It’s someone they can feel comfortable talking to. They’re not going to be judged,” Ehrentraut said.

Do you think the law will help? Let us know below…

  • lorettawall

    hi im am loretta i be bullyed since first grade to 5 grade. it is not fun. I you have friends that is what gets you on your day. I hated to go to school but now the new law makes me feel like there is hope to stop bullying.

  • launawall

    I know what they have been going though because i was bullyed one and then treind in summer school .i will not she her name

  • Dakotahgeo, Pastor/Chaplain

    Parents will not learn until they spend 5 days in jail for their childrens’ mistakes; students will not learn until they spend 6 monhs in juvenile detention facilities. The USA is well known for its refusal to learn their lessons until tragedy or a great wake-up call is sounded.

  • L. Y. Hostrawser

    Yvette H.

    This law is years too late for my son. With a genius IQ at 5, he was advanced rapidly through the Lakehurst NJ school system until the poor little short thing bumped into a state troopers spoiled brats that made it their mission to spit in his food everyday at lunch. He shut down. I took him to psychiatrists, therapy, doctors for years. He ended up being a drop out. Hope they are satisfied that they destroyed his future, his ability. I did not find out about their terror until two years ago. Karma will do the same to their kids.

  • Josh

    I completely disagree with NJ’s efforts. It is up to the kids, their parents and ultimately the schools to teach kids how to treat each other with respect. You cannot legislate that and you can’t make every kid nice to each other. Stop making new rules and just enforce the ones which already exist!
    The sad fact remains that Tyler Clementi knew what he was doing and waited 3 days to take his own life. He made a choice and instead of his family or the gay community living with it, everyone has had this bullying BS forced down their throats. It’s enough!!! Teach your kids to stand up for themselves and if it gets out of hand, to fight back. One swift punch in the face may earn you a suspension, but the bullying will end. It’s that simple.

    • Dakotahgeo, Pastor/Chaplain

      Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I ‘m sure glad I’m not your child! It is the parents’ responsibility to teach appropriate behaviors, not the schools or the teachers. Bring up your own child correctlyand if that fails, maybe a few days’ vacation for you and wifey in the local slammer might bring about a needed change in your family. One swift punch…ohhhhhh, please!

    • David Wainwright


      You are so wrong on multiple issues. Tyler Clementi was driven to commit suicide because of a real crime (invasion of privacy) committed against him, and you blame Mr. Clementi. Furthermore, your advice about a one swift punch is a good way to get yourself arrested. While you have the right to defend yourself against immediate violence, the use of force against non-violent forms of bullying, such as in this case, are illegal. Furthermore, the law (at least in NJ) requires that a person in a public area has a duty to retreat before using self-defense.

  • JBG

    Im a parent of a teen and tween. Personally, I teach my children to look for the child who eats alone and befriend them, to never participate in ANY kind of bullying and to treat others the way they want to be treated. Despite the strength I try to instill in them, occasionally, one or both will come home in tears because of some mean spirited child. You have to spend time with your children, get to know them and be a part of their everyday and teach them VALUES. But for the parents that dont, I do believe there should be a consequence for bullying. School suspensions DONT WORK. Community service, for both the child and the parent, would be a good place to start. Make the parents responsible as well.

  • Diana B.

    I am totally against bullying and harassment and have always taught my son against such behavior. However, I do have concerns about legislation in this regard, how the legislation will be implimented, and the long term ramifications of teaching students to run and cry for help, rather than stand up for themselves. We should be building children with self-confidence and a support networks at home.

    What happened to Tyler Clementi was horrible, and it was tragic that he felt he had no alternative but to take his own life. Why did he feel he had nobody to turn to? Was he not “out”? Were his parents and family not supportive of him? Was his cousin Jennifer available to take his call then as she is now on the bullying hotline? These are the real questions.

    Raising children without the strength, self-confidence and family support to face such bullies will only set them up for victimization as adults. . . and the adult bullies are the really dangerous ones. Everytime I think of that mother out west who cyberbullied one of her teenage daughter’s friends into suicide I want to ring her neck. She should wear a scarlet letter “B” of shame for life!

  • Maureen Castriotta

    Speaking on my own behalf only….In my opinion, Assemblywoman Huttle and the legislators who voted for this law have their head in the sand regarding bullying in schools. Most schools already had bullying and harrassment policies in place. If they didn’t work, it’s because the adults didn’t enforce them. You have to ask yourself, why is that? This law doesn’t address the real issue. Bullying is not about the kids, it’s about the adults they model themselves after. We need to stop the adult bullies in the system.

  • Frato

    Well, that would explain why there were CBS cameras in the lunch room today….meh, we will see if this works. I mean, people need to learn to stop hating on each other. Its certainly not helping. Teenagers have enough in life to worry about, really.

  • brendatobias

    I’ve no doubt this NJ law will be replicated around the country. It is quite interesting. Remember when teachers disciplined in the classroom, sometimes physically? We moved from that to simple humiliation (remember standing in the corner) to total (figurative) hands-off. Now legislation. Interesting. I wrote more about it here:

  • Matt B.

    It is certainly not “up to each and every one of us to be nice to each other”. What delusional thinking. Laws like this are a way to make money, and nothing more. It also encourages people to have super thin skin. This law essentially says that no one should ever develop character by overcoming. Instead you should cry about every little thing and sue someone to make you feel better. Pathetic.

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