Protecting Michigan’s children and ensuring they have a safe learning environment has always been a priority of mine in the Michigan Legislature. For years I have worked toward passing comprehensive anti-bullying legislation in Michigan, introducing bills that would require school districts to adopt real policies and have real conversations about bullying. Children and parents from across the state have contacted me to tell me their stories of how bullying has impacted their lives. It is clear that bullying is becoming a growing problem and needs to be addressed.
This year, the Michigan legislature passed legislation that falls far short of the comprehensive anti-bullying policy that Michigan’s students deserve. The legislation lacked key provisions that are required in any meaningful anti-bulling policy.
Unfortunately for our children, the legislation lacked any reporting requirement, a requirement that would give the state the ability to track the progress of the law, to see whether or not it is having an impact. It also failed to enumerate the groups of students most likely to be the target of bullying and included only extremely weak cyber-bullying protections, one of the largest bullying threats to our children today, effectively creating a “license to cyber-bully.”
Bullying is never OK. Not for any reason, not by any person. After having worked on this issue for so long, I felt that I had to send a message that we need a stronger policy and took a stand as one of two Senators to vote against the bill. On the day of the vote, I made the following statement on the floor:
"...I have personally agonized over whether to support this flawed legislation; whether to do, as many others will say, “something” because it is better than nothing... This bill falls far short of what we should be doing to protect our young people across Michigan. The bill does nothing to require reporting of bullying incidents to the Department of Education for us or our successors to measure whether or not we are having an impact in addressing the problem. It also fails to protect our most discriminated against children in schools... Therefore; I have decided to oppose this bill."
The bill was signed into law by Governor Snyder a few days after I took that vote, but for me the struggle to protect our children is not over. I plan to continue to fight to show the legislators in Michigan that It Is Never OK to bully, whether in person or on-line. I will soon be introducing an amended version of my bill, Senate Bill 45 to fix the mistakes made in the anti-bullying law that passed but I will need the help of the citizens of Michigan to make the argument for stronger legislation.
I plan to take a stand on this issue in the halls of Congress, as well. Bullying is an issue that students face all over the country, and the matter demands the attention of our lawmakers in Washington D.C. to ensure that all of our public schools are taking action to address this growing threat to our young people.
I know that an overwhelming number of Michigan’s citizens agree that our children deserve the safest learning environment and best protection possible. I am asking citizens like you across the state of Michigan to lend their voice in calling for a stronger policy.
You can show your support by signing my petition at www.itisneverok.com. Please join me in taking a stand for Michigan’s children.