I am a fifth-grade student and I support the new anti-bullying bill, “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act,” which is going through the legislative process at the Minnesota State Capitol. I have been involved in helping to pass this anti-bullying bill by lobbying and testifying in favor of this bill.
According to the 2011 United States Department of Education report, Minnesota’s current anti-bullying law is the weakest in the nation. But the new Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act when put into law will take our states law from being the weakest – to being one of the strongest anti-bullying school laws in the United States.
The 2010 Minnesota Student Survey found that 13 percent of students were bullied regularly, once a week or more. If that held for the state’s entire student population, it would mean more than 100,000 students in Minnesota are bullied on a regular basis.
I was the target of ongoing and repeated bullying three years ago when I was in second grade at the elementary school I then attended (not part of the Forest Lake School District.) The bullying that happened to me included: physical harm, verbal threats, stealing, and intimidation. I was hit regularly, pushed around, my belongings were taken from me, I was attacked and readily pushed to the ground at recess, and threats of “I’m going to kill you if you tell anyone!” were made against me. After all this happened to me, I left this school at the end of second grade in hopes of finding a school that would provide a safe learning environment for me.
I now go to Scandia Elementary School, and I feel much safer here. Scandia Elementary School has the Olewus Bullying Prevention Program which I feel helps prevent bullying.
At the Minnesota State Capitol, on Feb. 28, I testified at the Minnesota House of Representatives – Education Policy Committee, and then on March 5, I testified at the Minnesota Senate Education Committee. At these committee hearings I told my personal story of being the target of ongoing and severe bullying three years ago, and I asked for their support of the new anti-bullying bill.
The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act is a comprehensive anti-bullying bill that will require all schools in Minnesota to have anti-bullying policy that includes: (1) clear definitions of bullying, harassment, and intimidation; (2) enumerated protection for students most likely to be bullied or harassed; (3) training and resources for students, staff, and volunteers on bullying prevention and interventions; (4) specific procedures school staff must follow when bullying is reported.
I have shared my personal story of having been the target of bullying so that our state’s legislators will vote in favor of the new anti-bullying bill. When this bill passes and becomes law, all students in Minnesota will be protected from bullying. I want to help protect students in Minnesota from bullying because I know what it’s like, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone.
I encourage you to contact your legislators and tell them you support the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act.
Forest Lake is District 39. Bob Dettmer is our District 39A Minnesota House Representative (651-296-4124, [email protected]) Karin Housley is our District 39 Minnesota Senator (651-296-4351, [email protected]). To find out who your state legislators are, go to www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts.
I thank you for sharing in the support of this anti-bullying bill.
Jake Ross is a 10-year-old from Forest Lake.