ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) - A bill that would require schools to notify parents when their child is bullied is well on its way to becoming law.
Jacobe’s law passed the State Senate unanimously for the second year in a row, but will still need to get the go-ahead from the Assembly before it becomes law.
Life hasn’t been the same for Richard Taras since April 2015 when his 13-year-old son Jacobe committed suicide.
“Every day we ride the roller coaster of emotions,” Taras says. “What parent thinks that they will ever outlive their child?”
He didn’t see it coming, but he also didn’t know his son was being bullied; Oliver Wrench Middle School never contacted Taras or his wife to keep them in the loop.
“We believe that they had direct knowledge that they failed to act on,” Taras says.
Now Taras and New York Senator Jim Tedisco are trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“Any bullying that takes place at a school, or on school grounds is indicated to a school administrator or a mandated reporter would have to contact the parents,” explains Senator Tedisco.
Administrators would have to reach out to both the parents of the victim and those of the bully. Currently, under the Dignity For All Students Act, schools are only required to report these incidents to the State Education Department.
Richard Johns, director of an anti-bullying program in Saratoga Springs called Act With Respect Always, says Jacobe’s Law would be a game changer and could reduce tragic outcomes.
“When you nip in in the bud, I believe that’s a good thing,” says Johns. “We’re gonna get to this early, maybe earlier than we ever did.”
Taras’ hope is that no other parent has to go through the loss and pain he endures every day.
“If we save one person, one, we’ve won,” says Taras.
The year Jacobe died, his school reported 86 incidents of harassment under the Dignity for All Students Ave. They also reported 86 the year before.
As for the bill’s status in the NY State Assembly, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, who is sponsoring the bill in the house, says lawmakers are in the process of discussing potential amendments.
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