By Kristen Smith
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – Parents of Virginia public school students will be given educational information about eating disorders under a bill passed by the General Assembly.
House Bill 1406 was proposed by Delegate Richard P. Bell, R-Staunton, and co-sponsored by Delegates Mark Keam, D-Vienna, and Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church.
Both the House and Senate unanimously approved HB 1406, which requires each school board in Virginia to “annually provide parent educational information regarding eating disorders for pupils in grades five through 12.” The bill is awaiting Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature.
The bill lets school boards decide if they want to develop an optional eating disorder screening program. The screenings are not medical or physical but would identify risky behaviors that might lead to eating disorders.
The original version of House Bill 1406 required schools to develop screening programs for eating disorders instead of making such programs optional.
The legislation will give parents guidelines that describe the signs of eating disorders to look for in their children. Parents also will be told where they can get treatment or other help if they see that their child is at risk for or suffering from an eating disorder.
The Virginia Department of Education will work with the Virginia Department of Health to develop information and policies on providing parents with correct information about eating disorders.
The agencies will draw from medical experts such as the National Eating Disorders Association, Virginia Association of School Nurses, Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Virginia Academy of Family Physicians.
Capital News Service is a student news-gathering program sponsored by the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.