It is not without risk of peer condemnation that our teenagers have made “strengthening bullying laws” their priority over peer acceptance. It means exposing some secrets bullies use to conceal their attacks. It means urging punishments against offenders who are their own peers. But, Monster March teens put saving lives and deterring bullying above their own needs. All of them have either lost a sibling to bullied suicide or endured severe peer harassment, themselves.
We believe, with their bullying experience, their inside knowledge of social networks and their ability to articulate critical information, our teenagers may be the most qualified “experts” on bullying there are. Some lawmakers now agree. In the last month, our teens leading The Monster March’s “Changing Laws” crusade have consulted with congress members on a new federal anti bullying law. A separate team of our teens has served as advisers to New York’s first state law against cyber bullying.
These Monster March teens are:
1. 16 year old, Alyssa Rodemeyer: whose brother, Jamey, hanged himself, triggering national outrage and awareness.
2. 15 year old, Victoria Mendez: whose brother, Daniel, shot himself, leading to the exposure of schools that deny their role in bullying.
3. 14 year old, Jonah Mowry: whose bullying YouTube video went viral, enlightening the world to the trauma bullying causes.
4. 19 year old, Brittany Lavonier: who channeled her pain from severe bullying into a popular petition for a federal “Jamey’s Law.”
We recently learned both the NY Assembly and the Senate version of the proposed new cyber bullying legislation will be “amended” to include some of the critical changes our teens urged.
Kudos to NY Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and to State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer for listening to teenagers. Below, are the specific wording changes Monster March teenagers recommended NY lawmakers include. We’ve also posted our teens’ recommendations they’d sent to lawmakers in advance of their first meeting. (Monster March teens’ recommendations are in red):
TOP 5 MONSTER MARCH TEEN “STRENGTHENING” RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Add: “Police and prosecutors cannot drop bullied homicide cases on the grounds: “The accused are minors” or because, “There’s no witness to testify.” (In all other homicides, the victim/witness is dead, but authorities still pursue charges using evidence. And, what’s the point of creating a law aimed at teen offenders who you plan to never hold accountable?)
2. Strengthen the consequences or you won’t get teenagers’ attention:
a. First conviction mandates offender be “Banned from using the Internet for One Year.”
b. Bumping possible punishment up to a maximum “Up to 3 years in jail and a $3,000 fine.”
3. Change current definition of “Bullying” so it may take just ONE offense:
(Change from: .”Bullying has to be “repeated” harassment …and “over a period of time.”)
a. We know just ONE comment can push a suicidal teen over the edge.
b. Teens need to know they can’t bully AT ALL. If you allow them ” A few rounds of harassment,” they’ll keep bullying.
c. Police would still have the power to decide whether the bullying rose to a criminal level.
4. Hold Schools Accountable:
NY legislation states its purpose is, “to expand the protection of our school children to the Internet.
Fact: 86% of the bullied teen suicides we’ve documented include school denials of having had knowledge of any bullying while families and friends insist “The school was well informed.”
a. Schools must develop, activate and keep records on effective anti bullying programs and also publicize statistics and, during investigations, publicly disclose information.
5. All Monster March Teens Urge This Legislation be called, ” Jamey’s Laws.”