Canby House Representative’s Bill Takes Aim at School Bullying

The House of Representatives on Thursday unanimously passed a bill introduced by GOP caucus leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, that would ensure Oregon’s public schools have policies in place to notify parents about incidents of bullying.

The proposal, House Bill 2631, also includes provisions to allow students to override this requirement in situations where it is warranted.

Bullying is pervasive in schools, Drazan said, and requires support and engagement from school professionals, as well as families — who can offer the mental and emotional support students need to recover from their trauma.

Taking on bullying, harassment, intimidation, and cyberbullying are keys to achieving the goal of better mental health outcomes for students, the representative added.

“So many of our kids are hurting, and those closest to them deserve to know,” said Rep. Drazan. “This bill ensures that parents and guardians are notified if their child is a victim of bullying in school, giving them the opportunity to be part of a solution.”

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, of Canby.

Among the most outspoken supporters of HB 2631 have been the family and friends of Carson Bride, a 16-year-old at Riverdale High School in Lake Oswego who died by suicide last June after two years of relentless harassment.

Other students estimated that Carson was bullied 90% of the time that he was at school, his mother, Kristin Bride, told KATU News.

“We are neighbors of the Bride family and the fact that their son committed suicide as a result of bullying by classmates is absolutely horrific,” Lake Oswego resident Kathleen Nielsen wrote in support of the bill. “I am in support of anything that can be done to stop this terrible turn in our society.”

A Mulino mother of two adult children and one still in high school shared an experience disturbingly similar to the one endured by the Brides.

“I thought my older two students escaped their high school years without experiencing bullying, until this last Christmas vacation when I learned that one of my children was severely bullied by a few classmates in high school,” Wynter Nichols wrote.

“Instead of telling us, they thought they could just suck up and endure it until graduation. This was done partly to not worry or stress us out. I also think the possibility of retaliation or more embarrassment if we were involved helped played into the decision to keep us in the dark.”

Although no law can unilaterally stop bullying, HB 2631 would greatly reduce the chance that parents of harrassed students will be kept in the dark.

“I want to be assured that if my youngest child ever is bullied or bullies another child, we will be immediately notified so we can take appropriate steps as a family to help them work through it,” Nichols said. “This law will give me confidence we will be provided the crucial information needed to intervene.

“The teenage years are hard enough in the best of situations. Please do everything you can as legislators to reverse the trend some districts have of keeping parents in the dark when bullying occurs. At least the mental health and at most the lives of our precious children are at stake.”

A 2019 report by the Oregon Task Force on School Safety found, among other alarming statistics, that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24 and that it’s on the rise in that age group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the overall suicide rate in Oregon rose by more than 28 percent from 1999 to 2016 — which was about three points higher than the national average.

HB 2631 passed on the House floor Thursday with 58 votes in favor and only one representative, Bobby Levy, R-Echo, absent. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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