Michigan set to pass anti-bullying law

Bullying is not a new problem, but it's evolving, and that evolution has led to escalation and a need for change.

All it takes these days is one statement, one text, or one mean message on a social networking site for your child to get hurt.

Niles High School student Torence Witherspoon says cyberbullying is a growing problem. "It psychologically messes with them, and it can lead sometimes to people believe what people are bullying them for is true."

It's happening more than you might realize, especially among a generation dominated by technology.

Another Niles High School student Maureen Craig, says she's been the victim of bullying that made her question her own worth. "Being bullied made me feel terrible, like I was not worthy of being able to go on. It just made me feel like I was nothing."

Principal of Niles High School Jim Knoll says the evolution of bullying has made it easier for kids to pick on one another. "It's technology that the kids really get into. You don't see a lot of one on one bullying, real time bullying anymore."

Anti-bullying legislation, that will require schools to have an anti-bullying plan in place, passed in the State Senate Tuesday and is expected to be signed by Governor Snyder soon.

Some Michigan schools, like Niles High School, already have policies.

"The two triggers for us are, if it's disrupting the school atmosphere, the environment, then we deal with that," Knoll said. "... but also if there's any kind of physical threat or something that could lead to a physical threat, we get on those things pretty quickly."

Those that don't have set policies will have to submit plans to the state.

As for what the kids think, most say the law's been a long time coming.

"It is a problem," Craig said of bullying. "It's nice the kids can go somewhere for help."

Witherspoon added, "It's important for students to understand they have somewhere they can go. they have someone they can tell when they're being bullied and feel safe doing that."

St. Joseph is another school district that already has an anti-bullying policy in place. In it, they say bullying of any kind can lead to disciplinary action, even suspension and expulsion if necessary.

School leaders say if your child is being bullied, it's important to report the situation to an administrator or teacher.


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