SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday that would assist parents and teachers to stop bullying. It's one more sign bullying is being taken more seriously than ever before.
Within the last week, several bills have been unveiled at the Utah State Capitol, and now cities like Orem and Salt Lake have announced their support for pushing back against bullies.
On Thursday, Orem City leaders publicly proclaimed announced their support for a Utah Valley University anti-bullying campaign: "Be Cool, Not Cruel."
"We've seen this problem, and we've decided to make a change — and hopefully for the better," said Jana Heyward, one of several UVU students who helped launch the campaign.
At Orem Jr. High School, students took the Be Cool, Not Cruel pledge, promising to prevent and report bullying. They solidified their commitment to the cause by adding their hand prints to a large banner with the words of the pledge written in the center.
The pledge reads: "I choose to be aware that someone is there. I choose to be a voice to those who have no choice. I will be the change - here and beyond. I choose to ‘Be Cool, Not Cruel' to make the difference right now.
"(Bullying) can be real hard for some people because you don't know who said it, and then it just really hurts people," said Samantha Sorenson, a student at Orem Jr. High School.
Salt Lake City government leaders are also working to spread anti-bullying awareness. Earlier this week, the city launched flipthecriptnow.org, a website that includes video clips and information on what bullying is and how parents, teachers and students can help prevent it.
This task of raising awareness has sparked legislation on a state level. HB298, sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, encourages schools to hold seminars that bring bullying and teen suicide out in the open.
"My bill seeks to bring greater awareness, give (parents) details they wouldn't otherwise know and let them know what resources are available," Eliason said.
Parents might not know how bullying shows up in their kids' lives, Eliason said, and some kids may not fully realize how their bullying behavior is affecting the anther person.
HB928 has already passed in the House, and Thursday itwas advanced unanimously by the Senate Education Committee. The bill is now three-fourths of the way through the legislative process.