Anti-bully measure discussed by lawmakers

The Senate Judiciary Committee today considered and passed Senate Bill 74, legislation introduced by State Senator Glenn Anderson (D-Westland) to require that local school districts include cyber bullying in their anti-bullying policies and establishes a requirement that local schools report annually on instances of bullying to the Michigan Department of Education.

“Michigan took an important step with the passage of ‘Matt’s Safe School Law’ in 2011,” Anderson said, “but with the significant increase in the instances of electronic bullying, there is a real need to draw attention to cyber bullying specifically in Michigan’s public schools. Additionally, establishing a reporting requirement on instances of bullying will help the Michigan Department of Education and the public to better understand the seriousness of this issue and whether we are sufficiently addressing it.”

The legislation would require that local school districts include cyber bullying in their policies under their respective definition of bullying, require that local school districts annually report to the Michigan Department of Education information on the incidents of bullying that occur and to make that information available to the public, require local districts to establish an assurance of confidentiality for an individual who reports an act of bullying, and require that if local districts make changes to their bullying policies they communicate a copy of the revised policy to the Department of Education.

“While technology offers our children incredible new opportunities to learn, grow and express themselves, it also presents deeply troubling opportunities to hurt one another through the onslaught of cyber bullying,” said Anderson. “Student victims of cyber bullying are unable to escape the reach of social networking, texting and the like – allowing bullies to broadcast their hurtful words to a larger audience than ever before with the touch of a button. This legislation will help to ensure that local schools are taking steps to create the safe learning environment that Michigan’s students deserve.”

Senator Anderson expressed gratitude to Senator Rick Jones, the committee chair and the other members of the committee for taking action on this legislation in October – National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. The legislation now moves to consideration on the Senate floor before the full Senate.