Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signs what has been called the "nation's toughest" anti-bullying law that prohibits bullying on school property and cyberbullying. The bill was signed as its lead advocate, the mother still grieving after 11-year-old’s suicide, stood witness.
The signing ceremony was given an air of poignancy when Sirdeaner Walker took the podium beneath the Grand Staircase of the State House, among pronouncements from Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and other dignitaries. 'My son Carl took his life just over a year ago,' Walker said and received an extended ovation from more than 100 officials, advocates, and schoolchildren. 'He was bullied with antigay remarks. And Phoebe Prince took her life just a few months ago after relentless and sexist bullying.'
Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hanged himself in April 2009 after months of relentless homophobic and anti-gay taunts. Only weeks after her son's death, another 11-year-old boy, Jaheem Herrera, hanged himself in family's home outside home. Jaheem was also subjected to relentless anti-gay taunting.
The Massachusetts legislature unanimously approved the far-reaching anti-bullying legislation last week. The law requires school employees to report all bullying, requires principals to investigate them and covers cyber-bullying. All but six states and Washington,D.C., have passed anti-bullying laws, reports WBZ.
Conservative groups have already threatened to challenge the new law, claiming it infringes on free speech.