Thank Goodness for Rep. Tricia Cotham

A statewide policy on bullying isn't a bad idea. Ensuring the policy is applied in a fair manner in every school district throughout the state won't be easy, but having a policy in writing that offers guidance to school officials will help schools and parents know when enough is enough.

Rep. Tricia Cotham is one of 50 cosponsors of the bill. She has personal experience with schoolyard bullies, having been a teacher and assistant principal in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Thank goodness for her level-headed, thoughtful discussion of this bill. She can speak and act from experience.

Rep. Nick Mackey, also from Mecklenburg County, can also speak and act from experience and we get a completely different approach. From the N & O:

Mackey, a freshman Democrat from Charlotte, filed a police report March 10 over one bullying incident. It says food -- Rice Krispiestreats, fruit roll-ups, pudding and cookies -- were stolen from an 11-year-old student's lunch. The boy had experienced similar thefts for two weeks.


Mackey declined to offer details about the incident or his relationship to the victim.

Bullying, which includes taking food or other possessions, can bring suspensions of a day or longer. Mackey said the punishment should be more severe.
"If a kid comes up to another kid and takes something from them, from their person, yeah, I would say that's a strong-arm robbery," said Mackey, a lawyer. "That's a felony. If I snatch your purse from you, that's a strong-arm robbery."

Again, thank goodness for Rep. Cotham who gives a more level-headed perspective.

"The question is, do we really want to get into the business of criminalizing children at our schools for every rule that they break? And I would say no," said Rep. Tricia Cotham.

"However, if a child breaks a serious rule that is also criminal -- such as using a weapon or taunting a person with a gun or with threats -- then it may be necessary to involve the legal system," she said. "But for most routine examples of bullying, they are not at that level."

As the parent of two children who have both faced down bullies at school, I appreciate Nick Mackey's passion. However, Mackey is the last person who should be pointing fingers at others and accusing them of criminal acts, especially when he is pointing at children.

For more on the Nick Mackey "strong arm robbery" charge.


Rep. Cotham is awesome; more personal stories are needed

She and supporters of the bill understand that children should not be political footballs in legislation that merely seeks to protect all children. The alternate/bogus bill introduced that strips specific protections is a non-starter. Any teacher or school official, for instance can deem bullying because of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression isn't covered.

Again I'll share video from my visit to speak to the Chapel Hill HS Gay-Straight Alliance last year. CHHS senior Kat Gipson shared her personal story of being gay-bashed in school; it forced her out of the closet to her parents, and spurred her to join the GSA.

How is this OK? No one was ever caught, and the investigation went nowhere, because, well, they don't have to follow through even though her parents wrote letters and went the extra mile.

The opponents of this legislation know exactly why they they don't like this bill -- it acknowledges that LGBTQ youth exist, and, from their perspective, it means the state of NC is acknowledging that there is a class of citizens treated unfairly that is not in the current protected classes on the books.

We have to protect all of North Carolina's children.

Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend

That's what it's about.

Protecting all of our children. All of them. Especially those who don't have the courage that this young woman has - to speak up for herself.

I heartily concur regarding Cotham's

dedication to this issue. I corresponded with her through email concerning the bill last year. She was great about responding back to me the same day and sent an update a few weeks later. I couldn't believe she was a real politician! Rep Cotham is an outstanding representative for Charlotte.

She is very responsive.

I imagine she was very good at her previous job and while it is a shame that she is no longer there for her high school students, she can do more good for more students at her current job.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Cotham is great..

Rep. Cotham is great. She is responsive, smart, ethical,kind, and truly cares about people. Maybe we can draft her for higher office someday??!!

Here's hope..