In the Name of Adriana Kuch: NJ Lawmakers in Both Parties on the Move

The suicide of Adriana Kuch following her filmed and Tik Tok-posted assault by a gang of thugs at

Adriana Kuch

Central Regional High School has New Jersey lawmakers in hurry-up mode to address a specifically violent and sadistic bullying crisis.

Today, veteran state Senator Shirley Turner (D-15) alerted the state Office of Legislative Services (OLS) of the need to fine-tune New Jersey’s anti-bullying laws.

Turner noted the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, a federal law that emerged from New Jersey, widely regarded as a foundational legal instrument “to make America’s colleges and universities safer and more affirming for LGBTQ+ students by requiring the establishment of policies that prohibit harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” according to JoDee Winterhof, of Human Rights Campaign.

The senator supported the law and other strengthening measures to protect students in New Jersey’s schools, including 2011’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which aimed to provide school administrators with tools to respond to instances of harassment, intimidation and bullying in a timely and effective manner.

But as Turner sees it, the law as it exists too finely applies to a protected class of individuals, those who might be targeted because of their sexual orientation, the color of their skin, or their ethic or national identity.

“We need the law to protect all students,” Turner told InsiderNJ. “It needs to be more universal.”

Breana Renda of Toms River, a mother, activist, and friend of Michael Kuch, the father of Adriana Renda, has added her voice to the heartbroken and undaunted father’s cause, to ensure that New Jersey will respond to a crisis it did heed in time to save a precious life.

“Social media played a very big role in Adriana taking her life,” Renda told InsiderNJ. “…We need to put an end to this kind of malicious and intimidating posting; make it against the law. In this case, I have a child due to go to Central Regional High School, and I don’t feel 100% safe. There is a big negligence problem.

“There should [also] be another law, that if a child has to go to the administration more than once and nothing happens, the administration has to be held accountable,” Renda added.

Diegnan
Senator Diegnan

In 2021, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-26) and Sen. Patrick Diegnan (D-18) strengthened New Jersey’s anti-bullying laws and improved protections for students has received final legislative approval. S-1790 amended New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights with specific requirements on school districts to help prevent and respond to bullying incidents.

“The Legislature has aggressively moved to control bullying in our schools, but it hasn’t been enough,” Pennacchio said at the time. “Today, victims of bullying are prone to attack 24 hours a day by schoolmates or rivals texting from their phones or flexing social media muscles online.

“This bill requires school and county officials to address bullying before it gets out of control, and makes it clear that districts, school officials and parents have a defined responsibility to protect children from aggressions that can occur on and off school property, on the internet, or by text,” Pennacchio added.

Pennacchio’s and Diegnan’s legislation became known as “Mallory’s Law” in honor of Mallory Rose Grossman, a relentlessly bullied 12-year-old Rockaway student who committed suicide more than five years ago.

“This legislation seeks to address the unimaginable circumstances which led to the death of Mallory Rose Grossman, who took her own life in 2017 – at the age of 12 – after suffering bullying at school and on social media,” said Diegnan. “Cyber harassment has become another weapon used by bullies to destroy those innocent victims who they relentlessly target. A parent or guardian who willfully disregards or enables the cyber-attacks of a minor adjudicated of cyber-harassment must be held accountable. I am heartened by the support of The NJ State PBA, Garden State Coalition of Schools, NJ Association of School Administrators, and NJ School Boards Association.”

Now, with the suicide of Adriana Kuch, Turner, Pennacchio and Diegnan all want to revisit New Jersey’s laws on the books and do so swiftly.

They all acknowledge that this horrific episode marks a critical moment in the state.

“Look, assault is assault; it’s illegal,” Pennacchio told InsiderNJ on Tuesday. “This case [Adriana

Pennacchio
Senator Pennacchio

Kuch] – it simply breaks my heart – it should have been reported. Bullying is universal. It’s been with us forever, and now the Internet rubs it in in a particularly cruel way.”

Pennacchio also noted the desensitization to violence and death everywhere in the culture.

“Our children are playing games where the object of the game is to kill somebody,” said the veteran Morris County Republican lawmaker. “We need more discussions on this. This is a work in progress. We have to have an adult conversation. We have to check politics at the door and come together to protect our kids. We have to get around the table with adults and look at what we are doing to our kids.

“I’d be happy to work with Shirley Turner across the aisle, and everybody else,” the senator added.

 

 

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5 responses to “In the Name of Adriana Kuch: NJ Lawmakers in Both Parties on the Move”

  1. Every BOE in every community in the state is paying attention to what has and is occurring here in this heartbreaking example of Miss Adriana Kuch where the barbarism of what has occured is on full display and demands to be confronted head on.

  2. If lawmakers want to “fine tune” anti-bullying laws, pass strict liability laws where schools can immediately expel students who initiate bullying. In the Kuch case, if someone dies from bullying, the bullies are to be expelled, taken from their parents and put in juvenile facilities, and tried for adult crimes. Enough already with cheap talk about anti-bullying measures from our impotent politicians in NJ and nationwide. Put teeth into anti-bullying laws and then execute on the laws, instead of talking about it. Therapy doesn’t work for bullies in schools, like the feral pack that caused the death of this young girl. These bullies are nothing more than neanderthal savages with no self-control or remorse. They need to be expelled, immediately put in juvenile facilites, tried for adult crimes and serve long jail sentences. All of these alleged progressive programs to help those with violence problems have obviously failed.

  3. This is a NO BRAINER!! All legislators ought to be fired for not putting this in the law to begin with! And the legislature who is making this about LGBT and all that is a disgrace!!!!!!! ENOUGH of the baiting to get votes. EVERYONE IS VICTIM TO THIS AND EVERYONE DESERVES PROTECTION LADY!!! It’s sickening. Fix the laws thoroughly once and for all! This does not take a rocket scientist.

  4. My daughter was bullied starting in the 8th grade that flipped the switch of a happy young lady to suddenly a flat affect. She began cutting her self and made an attempt to end her pain by taking pills. The school did nothing. The VP called to say a boy grabbed her breast but I was not entitled to know what their course of action was. She was spit on, kicked, hair pulled, terrible rumors spread, and the bullying grew across social media. To this day she suffers from anxiety and depression, lack of self confidence, etc. so the trauma continues. She felt that the administration, counselors, even the police had failed her. There are so many of these stories. Some stories end in death because the pain was just to unbearable. Please be their voices and bring about change. There have to be consequences to their actions and suspension is simply a vacation. The consequences need to be felt to deter them from doing more bullying. Community service, staying after school to help the janitors clean, not allowing participation in sports, parents brought in for mandatory meetings with child, etc.

  5. Maybe it’s time for parents to put their kids who are bullied into self-defense courses, e.g., karate, jiu-jitsu, krav maga (probably best since it involves street fighting).
    Bullied kids need to put bullies into the nurse’s office or the hospital.

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