HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A state lawmaker wants to make self-awareness and defense part of the required physical education and health curriculum to help combat bullying in public schools.

If Texas lawmakers agree, all public-school students will learn skills to help prevent bullying and encourage healthy relationships as they grow up.

“I believe in a future where all of our young people are aware that they have the right to defend and protect their own body,” said Erin Zwiener, State Representative D-45.

Zweiner is pushing for a change in curriculum that would include lessons about respect for another person’s body and confidence in protecting themselves

“That’s a conversation parents are having all over the state but we can reinforce that lesson as part of our bullying prevention work in schools. And again, it not only teaches kids to respect the space of others, but it also teaches that they have the right and the power to enforce their own space limitations,” she said.

“We should be doing everything we can to give kids the tools to stand up for themselves, and to know that when somebody violates their bodily autonomy, that they’ve been wronged and should speak up,” Zweiner said.

The proposed instruction would include discussion and collaboration with the Texas School Safety Center and would also incorporate practices to help with the intervention and resolution of bullying and harassment.

Nancy Razo, School Psychology Program Coordinator from UTRGV believes these skills would make students more resilient.

“Having good programming in schools like we do right now with a social emotional learning is teaching them about being self-aware, managing their emotions all those things all lead to having a person who is mentally well or mentally healthy,” Razo said.

“If we build a good foundation in the schools, then it’ll lead to having good adults who are mentally healthy,” Razo said.

If approved, the new lessons would begin with the 2023-24 school year.