Since first entering the legislature in 2008, I have come to realize that many of the challenges facing Ohio are in line with those being confronted by many of our fellow states. While concerns like the economy, tax reform, and education have long held our collective awareness and efforts, the ever-changing world that we live in often brings about new issues that warrant our attention. In recent years, a growing and dangerous problem has been affecting families and school children across the nation. With the advent of social media and high-tech cell phones, the act of bullying has taken on a new shape. Gone are the days of a schoolyard bully starting a scuffle on the playground, or a nasty note passed along from one student to another. Today, some adolescents are taking to the internet to air out their grievances with fellow classmates, and at times, the result has proven tragic. Unfortunately, Ohio has not been immune to this type of behavior. A few years ago, Jessica Logan, a student at Sycamore High School, texted a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend via cell phone. Unknowingly and without her consent, Jessica's photo was passed on to several students in surrounding communities. An endless stream of ridicule followed and at the age of 18, Jessica, grievously distraught and embarrassed, took her own life. Prompted by Jessica's story, along with far too many similar stories, members of the General Assembly recently launched an effort to curb this disturbing activity. In January, House Bill 116, also known as the "Jessica Logan Act," received nearly unanimous bipartisan support from the Ohio Senate. At its core, the legislation aims to strengthen our schools' anti-bullying policies by defining "electronic acts" of harassment and extending them to the realm of "cyberbullying." Annual reviews and in-service staff training will also be required so that districts remain well-informed regarding the newest technologies and methods associated with bullying. Parents will be provided notice of the school's policies and be encouraged to assist the school in enforcing its provisions. As Chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, I was inspired to see lawmakers from both sides of the aisle working together to pass this very important legislation. This measure was the result of a unified advocacy between the two parties, as well as the valuable input and effort of concerned parents and education professionals. Jessica's story will long haunt those who knew her well, and I am afraid that no new law could ever provide the closure needed when one has lost somebody close to them. However, as harassment among our young people turns uglier and more dangerous, the need to stymie it is greater than ever before. I am confident that passage of the "Jessica Logan Act" will benefit communities across our state by making schools safer and more secure so that quality learning can be had. We can all play a role in reducing bullying by not tolerating such behavior in our own children, but also modeling tolerance and kindness through our own actions.
Senator Lehner represents Ohio's 6th Senate District which includes a portion of Montgomery County. She currently serves as Chairwoman for the Senate Education Committee.
 
 
 
  
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