Politics

Gov. Steve Beshear on Thursday announced the creation of a new task force aimed at combating bullying in Kentucky’s schools.

Beshear, citing statistics from the Kentucky Department of Education, said the state had 15,000 reported incidents of bullying in the 2012-2013 school year. He also discussed research that links bullying with dropout rates and teen suicides.

“When you have these incidents of bullying contributing to teen suicides and attempted suicides, that’s a huge problem,” Beshear said. “So we’re going to take a comprehensive look at this, and hopefully come up with some other avenues and some other tools that will give us a comprehensive set of solutions.”

Task force member Morgan Guess, an 11-year-old enrolled at Paducah’s Lone Oak Middle School, said she was prescribed anti-depressants for the trauma of getting bullied.

“When I was just 8-years-old I was bullied by a classmate,” she said. “She pulled my hair, pinched me on the back of the neck and even threw her shoulder into my back. She isolated me from my all friends and I felt all alone. I experienced stomach spasms and panic attacks.”

The 22-member Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force will examine legislative approaches and school practices, and the link between cyber-bullying and teen suicide. The group will provide a written report of its findings to the governor’s office in November 2015.