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Moms Talk: Should Michigan Crack Down on School Bullies?

The state Senate is pushing for a safe-school law that would require anti-bullying policies.

Moms Talk is a new feature on Dexter Patch that is part of a new initiative on our Patch sites to reach out to moms and families.

Dexter Patch invites you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in Dexter.

Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms take your questions, give advice and share solutions.

This week we're addressing the issue of bullying in schools. According to an article in the weekly Observer & Eccentric newspaper, state Sen. Glenn Anderson (D-Westland) is pushing forward with “Matt's Safe School Law.” The legislation was given its name in honor of Matt Epling, 14, an East Lansing student who committed suicide after being subjected to constant tormenting by older students while in middle school. 

What are your thoughts on school bullying? If passed, the law would require school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies.

H.M.W. February 10, 2011 at 04:31 AM
Unfortunately, a lot of the torture happens in the form of emotional/verbal abuse, which provides no physical evidence. And if teachers don't see the teasing, there's a limited amount of stuff they can do about abuse they have no physical evidence for. My neighbor was badly bullied as well, physically, and something only was done about it when his sister noticed the bruises all over his torso when he was changing in his room. Since it was a number of years ago, I can't remember what the school did about it, but his mom ended up pulling him out of 5th grade and home-schooled him for the remainder of his grade-school career. I agree with what you said about cyber-bullying becoming quite a powerful component of bullying. Perhaps people are too worried about getting in trouble or falsely accusing/getting someone else in trouble. Maybe this is part of why a lot goes undone about cyber-bullying until someone winds up killing themselves or killing others.
Caroline Altomare February 10, 2011 at 01:27 PM
The anonymity of the internet can be a terrible thing. It provides many with a platform to express poisonous things without ever needing to provide a name/face. We see it in the blogging and comment sections on news websites all the time (not this one Daniel..). So cyber bullying is another extension of that "power". You almost can't accuse a cyber bully because there can be no trail to follow. "A" posts something horrible, all the school sees it, then "A" deletes the post. The damage is done, but there is no trail and "A" denies it if asked. I think that is the main point...anonymity..power without consequence...a heady mixture for a teen. And then there are the parents that, while rare, get somehow involved with it too as in the case of Megan Meier. Perhaps since we parents didn't have to deal with it when we were young, we don't *really* see the depth of the pain and power. Maybe it would help if we imagined that our boss called us in and fired us without notice and had the police there due to "embezzling". And everyone (except us) knew all about it...and when we go around to find out what happened, all we could find was rumor, and, all our coworker pals now shunned us. To go from one day happy employee to jobless, friendless and needing an attorney would be devastating. OK, so I know there are holes in my analogy that are a mile wide, but it is the principle that I am trying to express here.
Daniel Lai February 10, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Everyone here made some pretty profound statements on this topic. Thanks for chiming in this week. Do you have ideas for a topic for next week?
Dexter Mom November 12, 2012 at 03:39 PM
A current U of M doctoral student at U of M in his country (Chile) did a study about cyber bullying, and he showed that the children who were bullied and being bullied online outside of school were pretty much all the same children - i.e., that they know each other from school. In other words, kids don't get online and find random people to bully - they pick people from school. He said the correlation between victims who know their bullies from school was 90% (!), which shows that even if this bullying is being done "outside of school," the school is where it initiates, and thus the school has a responsibility to get involved.
Dexter Mom November 12, 2012 at 03:45 PM
There is a group of kids in Dexter who are all victims and they are reaching out for some help since the teachers and administrators aren't willing/able to stop it. The man mentioned above from U of M in the Psychology Dept. has given us this advice when being told a little about what is happening in Dexter. He said that what typically happens in these situations of mass school bullying is one of two things - either the students all begin to commit suicide (as they've been doing/attempting to do in recent years), or there is mass school violence...we're talking a school shooting. This happens because the kids a) aren't getting the emotional support they need (which should be the next step in this process - not just support for parents, but therapy and group support for children), b) they start to internalize this bullying and believe it's their fault, that they asked for it, and c) they begin to hate everyone and everything and want them all dead. This is really serious...judging by the fact that people around this area know of Dexter's reputation for bullying, and by the fact that children are starting to flee the school district, I'd say unless something changes we're looking at a really, really, really serious situation, one in which people could be killed. He stressed that these children need emotional support, i.e. a group for victimized children in the area. I don't know if anything like that exists here...?

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