Rep. Pittman leads anti-bullying task force
CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
On one of the first work days after the Thanksgiving weekend, state Rep. Anastasia Pittman will be conducting a legislative task force focused on what she deemed “the serious issue of bullying that is plaguing public schools.” Pittman anticipates the hearing will attract student leaders, concerned citizens, parents and professionals.
The pubic hearing examining the issue will be in Room 432A of the Oklahoma state Capitol, on Tuesday, November 30 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 pm.
According to Pittman, last year Oklahoma school districts reported 259 cases of bullying that resulted in physical injury and 10,537 incidents without injury. Districts also reported 1,431 cases of teachers or staff members being bullied.
“We are collaborating with Legislators, staff members and education agencies to inform attendees of our current policies, discuss best practices, and discover what will work for Oklahoma schools,” said Pittman. “We want to discuss new policy and compare legislation on a local and national level.”
The meeting is intended to bring all interested parties to the table to collaborate on legislation to tackle bullying for the coming session, which she plans to dedicate in honor of Ty Fields.
According to Pittman’s press release on the effort, sent to CapitolBeatOK, speakers will include Jessica Hawkins, Oklahoma Mental Health Department; Carey Hinchey, Heart of a Champion Organization; and Martina Hawkins, Falvmmichi-Choctaw Nation.
The meeting will also include special remarks from Kirk Smalley, father of Ty Fields and members from “Stand for the Silent.”
In August, Rep. Pittman said that tougher school policies against bullying need to be enacted to protect individuals like Fields, a young man who, according to this family and some news accounts, committed suicide after being bullied at school.
“My heart goes out to Ty and his family,” Pittman, an Oklahoma City Democrat, said. “I cannot imagine the heartache that such a tragedy creates, the loss of an 11-year-old who had been bullied to the point that he felt the need to take his own life.”