And the consequences are real. The risk to bullied students include school attendance and a performance drop, with obvious further effects. They are more likely to develop behavioral problems and to show a higher level of drug and alcohol abuse. According to the National Institutes of Health, both the bully and the victim are at higher risk of engaging in violent behavior. Most tragically, there are an increasing number of studies that find a positive link between teen suicide and bullying.
It is appropriate to worry about the cost of and resources for a program and to be mindful of the unintended consequences of anti-bullying laws. But that is not where Gillespie wants to go. For him, the real problem is overprotective parents and a meddlesome government. But denialism is not a solution, it is a run from the problem.
The problem is real and the facts point to solutions that do help. But the real tragedy is that Gillespie is putting his disdain for helicopter parents ahead of the best interests of creating a secure and positive environment for our children. It might make him feel good today but it is an irrational trade on the future.