Michigan Ranks as Worst State for Bullying; Should Schools Have to Tell You Your Child is being Bullied?
Did you know that according to a study by WalletHub that analyzed trends nationwide in 2016, Michigan ranks at the worse state in the country for bullying?
Sad to say but this is one list we do not want to be at the top of, let alone #1.
According to the WalletHub study their Analysts compared:
states using multiple metrics, including “bullying-incident rate…truancy costs for schools…percentage of high school students bullied online.
Unfortunately among their key findings, Michigan was ranked third for highest percentage (25%) of high school students bullied on school property. On top of that number approximately 9% of high school students in Michigan reported being bullied online, that gave us the fifth-highest rate in the country in that category.
Jun Sung Hong, an assistant Professor of Social Work at Wayne State University stated:
studies have found that children who grew up in a home where the parents are abusive may develop poor social skills, which put them at risk of being victimized by their classmates and peers
Now a new problem has risen, as the LGBTQ community sees it, and that concern is about schools informing parents that their child is being bullied because they are gay or transgendered.
An article by the AP and published in the Detroit News informs us about this new concern. They state currently eight states have laws requiring that schools must notify parents when their child is being bullied or is bullying other kids. LGBT advocates are concerned about forcing schools to advise all parent they argue that “schools officials could inadvertently be put in the position of outing gay, lesbian or transgender pupils to their parents. And such students may avoid reporting bullying to officials for fear of having their parents told.”
Ikaika Regidor, director of education and youth programs for GLSEN, a national organization focused on safe schools for LGBTQ students was quoted in the article stating:
While it’s important for parents to be aware if their children are being bullied in school, it’s also imperative to remember that LGBTQ students may not be out to their family or may not have supportive families
The eight states that currently have statewide requirements for parental notification are: Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin.
What about Michigan?
In December of 2011, Michigan passed a law requiring schools to create and implement their own anti-bullying policies. Then in January 2015, Governor Snyder signed a bill requiring Michigan school districts to include cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policies and report bullying data to the state.
The bill that Governor Snyder signed was House Bill 4163, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Potvin. The bill is commonly known as "Matt's Safe School Law" in honor of Matt Epling, a Michigan teen who ended his life in 2002 after enduring severe bullying. Matt’s law gives schools six months to develop clear anti-bullying policies so they will be in place by the start of the 2012-2013 school year. The bill is now Public Act 241 of 2011.
Under Matt’s Safe School Law, every school is required to adopt their own anti-bullying policy. In Matt’s Law bullying is defined as any:
written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm one or more pupils.
Each schools bullying policy must name the school officials that are responsible for ensuring its implementation and must have procedures for notifying the parents or legal guardians of a student that has been the target of bullying. The school must also have a procedure for reporting an act of bullying and how it investigates bullying incidents.
If you need further information on the bullying policy in your school you can contact your child’s school and ask for a copy of the school’s bullying policy. You can also go to the following website: Michigan anti-bullying law.
Many in the LGBTQ community believe that informing the parents should be on a case by case issue and not a one policy of informing all parents about their child being bullied.
My concern is how would a school official determine that it would be harmful for the student to inform their parents that they are being bullied because they are gay or transgender? Are they just to believe the student, what if the student is wrong or just embarrassed?
Is it worth not informing a parent, which could lead to their child committing suicide, because the school officials or the child believe that the parents may not act appropriately?