Thank goodness and thank you state Representative Pam Byrnes (D- Lyndon Twp.) for introducing and obtaining support for "Matt's Safe School Law", passed in the Michigan House of Representatives last Thursday. The law is based on a student in East Lansing who committed suicide after being "hazed" or "bullied".
This legislation can't come soon enough. We have heard a lot of incidents concerning bullying lately, from cyber bullying to abuses on the playground with students as young as age 11. It is about time bullying moves into the legislative arena.
Along with the new law, I am impressed with what I am seeing in my kid's school system. In Saline this year, despite an incident at Heritage School recently, younger children at Pleasant Ridge Elementary participated in a "Bucket Filler" program, based on the idea that it is not nice to "take out" of someone's bucket by making them feel bad, but to "fill buckets" to make others feel good. The program is based around the book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" and hopefully will help prevent incidents like the one at Heritage from occurring in the first place. The district also held a community forum on safety, to invite parent involvement and reassure us student safety is top priority.
For older students and adults, ages 16 and up, there is a program called safeTALK, through Saline Community Education, and it is designed to teach people to be depression aware and suicide alert, as well as providing resources for those who need help.
Bullying is serious business. It is not swirlies and stolen lunch money like when I was a kid. I appreciate any effort, by any organization State or otherwise, that is willing to insist on action to stop bullies in their tracks, and prevent bullying behavior for the future.