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LANSING – Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm renewed her call for state lawmakers to pass anti-bullying legislation on April 2. The governor’s call for action comes on the heels of new reports of teen suicides that have followed alleged or confirmed cases of bullying.
Granholm, who first proposed anti-bullying legislation in 2006, said lawmakers should act when they return from their spring recess.
“Here in Michigan and across the nation, suicides among young people who have been subjected to bullying demonstrate the need for anti-bullying legislation,” Granholm said. “Just last month in the Upper Peninsula, a young girl committed suicide. A contributing factor may have been alleged bullying by a classmate. Protecting young people should be and must be our number one concern.”
Her comment referred to 12-year-old Kimberly Linczeski of Ontonagon, who took her own life in March after an ongoing feud with a classmate who bullied her came to blows while at school. For punching back, Linczeski was punished and sent home, where she later died of self-asphyxiation.
Granholm noted that Michigan is one of only nine states without an anti-bullying law. Others include North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Mississippi, Alabama, Hawaii and Washington, D.C. Last month, after two back-to-back reports of bullycide hit hard in Massachusetts, their House of Representatives scrambled to pass bullying legislation in a unanimous vote.
In 2007, the Michigan House passed anti-bullying legislation known as “Matt’s Safe School Law” in honor of Matthew Epling, an East Lansing student who took his life in 2002 after being bullied by other students. The Senate failed to pass the legislation. Anti-bullying bills were again introduced in both houses in 2009 and are pending in the House and Senate education committees.
“We cannot afford further delay,” Granholm said. “The legislature should move quickly on this lifesaving legislation when it returns from recess.”
The Michigan legislature’s spring break ends this week.