A bill that would strengthen current laws against hate crimes and bullying has been passed to the New Jersey General Assembly.
The bill was sponsored by Puerto Rican Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo.
“Acts of hatred or violence against a person, especially a child, cannot be tolerated in our state in this day and age,” said Caraballo told the New Jersey Politicker .
“These acts of personalised terrorism command a response that will be swift and sure.”
Under the changed bill, bullying or hate crimes based on gender identity or expression and national origin would be specifically mentioned and forbidden, giving the law a clearer definition than it did previously.
If approved, the legislation would require police to include information about bias crimes in their quarterly crime reports.
These reports are filed to the state Office of the Attorney General, who would then retain information about bias crimes that would be available to the general public.
The Police Training Commission would also be required to provide new police officers with two hours of training in identifying, responding to, and reporting bias intimidation crimes.
Schools would have to post their anti-bullying policy on their websites and send copies of it to all parents and guardians.
The bill would establish a ‘Commission on Bullying in Schools’ which would oversee the effectiveness of school bullying laws and regulations.
“We need to send a clear message to children at an early age that the only types of intolerance that should be acceptable is an intolerance of hatred,” said Caraballo.
The bill passed 65 to 10 with five abstentions.
It is now dependent on the state Governor, who may sign it, veto it, or modify it in the form of a conditional veto.