Bullycide In Michigan: New Law May Help End Teenage Torment

Bullycide? When I first read that word I chuckled a little. But only a little. Bullycide is more serious than the silly concoction of the two words sounds. Bullycide is suicide because of bullying. Just over a month ago, the story of a girl who killed herself because she was being bullied at school ripped through the headlines.

Eight years ago, an East Lansing eighth grader was assaulted by a high school student. The high school student never got in trouble. Just over a month later, the eighth grader could not handle the bullying anymore, and killed himself. Since then, Matt Epling’s parents have been lobbying in Michigan, and throughout the country, for tougher anti-bullying laws.

“Matt’s safe school law” has been introduced to the Michigan House and Senate several times. In 2006, Michigan adopted a state-wide anti-bullying education policy . But this is only a policy, not a law. Although the policy is out there, not all schools are enforcing it. Matt’s law would require schools to have, and enforce, an antibullying policy. Matt’s law also requires that the school’s policy address education, parental involvement, reporting, investigation and intervention.

Michigan is one of eight states that does not have a statute prohibiting bullying and harassment in public schools. Many Michigan schools have voluntarily adopted antibullying policies and procedures. Some schools even have peer review boards, where bullies must face a group of their peers, and the peers determine the punishment for their actions. Yet, since 2001, Michigan has lost six children to bullycide.

Michigan is making a step in the right direction. Thursday, the Michigan House passed Matt’s law with a 79 to 28 margin. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for approval. Arguments against the legislation assert that it will be costly, and is unnecessary because of the 2006 antibullying policy already in place.

Cadillac, Michigan can attest to the importance of having a law to mandate a bullying policy. Cadillac High School had no antibullying policy in place. In February 2009, 16 year old Alex Harrison took his life because the bullying he endured became too much for him. Since then, Cadillac has initiated a monitoring policy and workshops to help teachers and students recognize and stop bullying in their schools.

jill@ambroselawgroup.com

Does your school have an antibullying policy? Is it strictly enforced? Do you think the law would help?

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4 Comments

Filed under Juvenile Crime

4 responses to “Bullycide In Michigan: New Law May Help End Teenage Torment

  1. kim robbins

    Jill, the is great information! I think this is a huge problem. I habve personally seen the effets of bullying and have always taught my kids to stop it when they see it and to always stick up for the underdog. Bullying can devastate children and teens and ruien their self-esteem. Too many parents and administrators ignore this problem. I hope this passes the senate!

  2. In my opinion as a parent whose 17 year old son died due to bullycide we need a law that mandates enforcement. The schools do not enforce there so called zero tolerance policies. My son should be in college this fall instead we have grieved his death for 2 years, and for 2 years I have spoke out, worked and tried to bring attention to this matter. However one of the biggest issues I see concerns adults and their inabilities to work together. Our kids are dying, our schools are floundering on so many levels, and getting a law passed should be a no-brainer. The last time I checked the Michigan law was still not passed – why?

    In my state (California) I am working with people that I personally dont agree with regarding their views and politics, however, they are the ones willing to work with and partner to get things done. I think we need cohesiveness. We need to stop the death of our children. The idea that another family would suffer as we suffer, as families who have already lost a child to bullycide, we need to come together.

    Peace,
    Lisa Ford-Berry
    B.R.A.V.E Society
    Bullies Really Are Violating Everyone
    Lisafordberry@Bravesociety.org

  3. Taylor

    who is the author of this article? i need to cite if for a project.

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