“My fear with such a tactic is that it is only a tactic. if the school has no prevention model in place ( and no requirement under said law to have such policies in place and in use before the law can be used) Admin's would now have a law or local ordinance to to simply "get rid of" problem students. Then we actually change nothing and shift the problem to another area: the all ready overloaded juvenile justice system. Smacks of a simple easy to apply "band-aid" rather than addressing the underlying issues of encroaching technology and growing lack of Empathy within our schools. (both adults and kids)”
“"As a parent I am always saddened to hear of the loss of a child, having lived through it myself. As an anti-bullying advocate, the loss becomes twice as heavy when I hear that peer abuse and bullying may be a direct cause of a child's death. As a society, all of us, adults and students, must begin to understand that no one has a "right" or "rite" to assault someone for their own amusement especially in our schools. Unchecked "bullying" will eventually become unwarranted "assault". We must Educate, Engage and Empower our students to become the Agents of Change within their own schools. That begins with treating each other with dignity and respect (adults included) and standing up for each other, not simply standing by as things happen. Our hearts go out to Bailey's family and hope that his classmates and community can make positive change in his memory."
Kevin Epling, Co-Director Bully Police USA, member Defeat the Label”
Kevinskogg on Mar 5, 2013 at 17:35:31
“Let's hold on a second here. The parents claim it was bullying, not any reputable source. These sort of baseless claims are made all the time lets see some evidence before you make it into something it is not.
This sort of reactionary criminalizing of every action is part of the problem. I read a story not too long ago about someone defending himself against a so called bully and killing them. Where do you go there.
If you want to remove conflict, you would need to remove the root cause, free will.”
“2 things: 1) I am glad that places like the Huffing Post and others are bringing attention to this issue yet 2) Why does it only become "news" when this is happening to "Celebrities" when we have thousands of children (and yes adults) affected everyday, and they suffer in silence and when it is brought up, little action is taken?
Myself and others began to speak out on the growing issue of Cyber-bullying back in 2005 and no one listened. The "research hadn't been done yet" to warrant action, now look how out of control it has become. No one is immune. Instead of simply reporting when bad things happen only to our stars, let people know what is happening in our schools and in our workplace to the "ordinary people" It is an issue most adults don't fully understand, and if it is getting press only due to celebrities, one can only imagine the hell it creates at the "normal" end of the spectrum.You can do better Huffington Post. Be Proactive not Reactive.”
Roberta Hicks on Sep 9, 2012 at 16:57:19
“Excellent post, Kevin...and I agree with what you've said..”
“Dear Huffington Post, as Matt's father I have posted on your sites previously and I seemed to be ignored just as the MI Senate ignore us. You are still stating incorrect information as noted below:
"named "Matt's Safe School Law" in honor of Matt Epling, a Michigan teen who committed suicide in 2002 after falling victim to anti-gay bullying"
We have no indication then or now that Matt's assault was based on sexual orientation. Your site even links directly to our son's site which denounces media for not checking their facts and sources and repeating erroneous information. Did anyone actually read the site before you linked it?
Please check it again, thank you.”
Misterioso Adversario on Nov 15, 2011 at 18:29:33
“HuffPo is pretty good at not reporting things accurately, so I can't say that any of this surprises me.”
I've been emailed the articles and had time to review some, but then stopped. And here's why: what transpired was Intimidation/Harassment and Stalking NOT bullying. This demeans all the work we are trying to do with our students. There are laws that will deal with stalking, saying its bullying gives a "free pass" to the abuser. We as advocates MUST use the correct terminology. Main problem is the media. Once picked up as a "bullying" story its less likely that it would be prosecuted criminally as "misuse of a telecommunications device and or stalking". A remedy? Use the right terminology especially in adult cases and invite the young men from the Olivet MI Middle School to the Miami team meeting, so they can explain what "TEAM" means to the adults. That would be a positive media event.
Overpaid disciplinary cases......
"Bullying is not a student problem, its an adult problem." KME”
“As a fellow parent who lost his son to suicide in 2002, I applaud what Mike is doing. It is sad that it must be the parents who have lost children to be the ones to lead the charge. Our son Matt took his life 40 days after a "Welcome to High School" hazing incident. At the time we were seen only as "grieving parents" and not people who wanted to make a long-term change. Just because we don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean it goes away. Bullying and Abuse in our schools ca no longer be seen as "acceptable", "normal", to be "tolerated" and worst of all "sanctioned" by adults who look the other way. It has been amazing to watch as many of parent’s crazy ideas such as "community involvement", "peer support" and "cultural change" are now the buzzwords of anti bullying because they have been "wrapped" differently. As for schools, no one program will remedy this situation without long-term goals and progressive hard work. The program, what ever it is, MUST fit the needs of the specific school and be "sustainable". If it is not it will not last long.
As a fellow Father and Agent of Change I support you Mike. For Steven, for Matt and for all those we have lost too soon due to the issues of school violence. We can and we must, Be the Change we wish to see.
Kevin Epling, Matt's Dad
Bully Police USA”
Mike Urry on Nov 6, 2012 at 12:48:35
“My deepest condolences on your loss, and thanks for your kind words, Kevin. As it happens, Bully Police is one of the very first sites I found when I started His Name Was Steven, it's an excellent resource. I agree completely with your feelings on the "acceptability" of bullying and the need for change. We'll see the day when attitudes will improve and stories like ours no are no longer commonplace.”
“As a fellow parent who lost a son in 2002 to suicide 40 days after a "Welcome to High School Hazing" we cannot spend time on revenge. We MUST change how people think and act on this important topic. 10 years ago absolutely no one wanted to talk about the issues of bullying and teen suicide, it was because the parents who had lost children chose not to be silent. Society's ignorance on the topic in itself caused additional pain for parents of loss. But we pushed and many of our "crazy ideas" have now been "adopted" as best practices without giving any credit to those who paved the way. When many of us spoke of "community based", "peer driven" and "culture change" people laughed and said "poor grieving parents". Parents have pushed for policy changes, laws to better protect our children and have been scoffed at for something that is to them "normal" Abuse and bullying within our schools should never be seen as "normal", it should never be "tolerated" and least of all "sanctioned" by looking the other way. For our schools, any program you choose MUST be able to fit within your own social climate and be "sustainable" . Do not go into this arena thinking a single speaker or booklet will do the "trick" Culture change can only be accomplished by hard work.
From a fellow father, fellow Agent of Change, we can and must Be The Change!
Kevin Epling, Matt's dad
Bully Police USA”
hp blogger Jonathan Hewitt on Nov 6, 2012 at 10:41:18
I am so terribly sorry to hear about your loss. I just watched a video of you speaking on the Bully Police USA website and am so glad that like Mike, you are helping our society deal with this horrific bullying issue. It breaks my heart to see anyone be cruel to another and to know that some have been bullied to the point where they see suicide as the best option to get out of the pain they are feeling. As we know, this is a deep rooted societal issue that needs to be addressed on many levels. I truly hope all our efforts will make the change that is so desperately needed.
“As a parent who was "drafted" into the war on bullying in 2002 after the loss of our Son Matt, I have been focused on the power and the empowerment of our youth to turn this situation around. They understand what is happening on a day to day level and the misuse of technology much better than us. Over the last 10 years I have seen so much change, that has begun at the student level when we the adults choose to empower them and step out of the way. I had the pleasure to meet Scott and Tyler at the National Anti-bullying Conf. in D.C. and they and others embody what I have been talking about for years. Congrats to Scott and Tyler for what they have done and more importantly what they are doing; setting an example for fellow students. Hopefully part of the "Bystander" ads need to be aimed at Adults as well. They are a bigger part of the overall problem. Thank you Marlo.
“I understand that Warren, but if that becomes the only item of the law that is routinely written about without a simple ( "the language was removed before final passage") it is picked up by others that this is in fact the final law. Then in the world of the internet is fact, it becomes fact and is repeated.
Again thank you for helping all of us spread the word of this issue. While others want to wait until solid research is done, it is clear to me that the connection between peer to peer abuse and teen suicide is growing. The longer we wait to act the more children we will loose. Thank you again.”
hp blogger Warren J. Blumenfeld on May 13, 2012 at 09:01:14
“I have also said since the beginnings of the "It Gets Better" campaign that yes it is needed and worthwhile, at the same time it sends the wrong message. We have always been telling every child it will get better, we need to actively Make it Better. And the students will be the first to step up. We need to stop with the band-aid type programs and get to the core of why students are doing this and you hit on it: The lack of Empathy
Thank you for your thoughts for all the students and their families it does mean a lot to us. But we must put aside the divisional issues of what us the adults want and focus on what the students want and need from us. On May 4th we had 1.3 Million students around the world sign up through their schools in the very first Stand4Change event. That was the wake up call yet hardly any media did that positive story, yet they all jump on the negative stories, there is another part of the problem.
“Warren, Thank you for bringing the issue to light but I must correct you (and many others) who continuously talk about MI's "right to bully law". Yes it was passed by the Senate but was overturned and the offensive language was removed the following week ( I was one of those who spoke out against it and was in on the change process). It was passed and signed by the Governor in Dec. without said language. Please research fully the information ( it seems that writers for the Huffington post are the main offenders). You point out exactly what I have been saying as a parent on a mission for the past 10 years: this is a societal issue. It is not a gay/straight issue (which many try to point out by naming the gay teens we have lost while generally omitting hundreds of others we've lost over the years. This is an issue that every child and every adult needs to address and understand it is NOT the same thing as it was years ago. Technology has unleashed a "Lord of the Flies" type feeding frenzy of hundreds on one, while schools chose to stand on the sidelines for too long. Schools had no clear way of dealing with regular bullying so they consciously chose not to prepare for the advance of cyberbullying although they were informed more than 6 years ago that it was coming.
Kevin, Matt's Dad, "Matt's Safe School Law" MI”
K Clark89 on May 13, 2012 at 21:59:21
“I fully agree with you that this is a societal as opposed to sexuality issue. When I was student teaching, we lost an 8th grade girl over her relationship with her boyfriend and the nasty attacks on her through Facebook. It's not a lack of parenting that makes bullying and suicides happen... I truly believe that it is the rise of technology that is the beast fueling all of this. Granted, I'm immersed in the technology of the world, but I grew up while the technology changed rapidly as opposed to being born into a world already equipped with iPhones and Facebook. Kids now are smart about these things... they know how to hide it from their parents and anyone else who they don't want to see. Bullying used to be something that happened on the bus and on the playground. Now it's a whole new monster that ANYONE is subject too regardless of gender, race, what have you.
Kudos to you for the work that you're doing. Please help spread the word so we can get our schools to see the real issue at hand!”
hp blogger Warren J. Blumenfeld on May 12, 2012 at 20:36:03
“Thank you Kevin for the great work you are doing. Regarding my mention of Michigan in my article, I make no claims that the Michigan Senate's version of the bill was written into law. I only mentioned that the initial version of the Senate-passed bill included the language I referred to. Thank. Warren”
“To begin with, every documentary film ever made cannot convey all of the subtle complexities of the subject matter it purports to represent. By focusing on the narrow scope of what "it should have been" and not focusing on what Lee had to work with (which includes his access to document the events so freely in that particular city and school, and legal system, the time frame it was to be done in) and the fact that this is real life with not many "do-overs",the locations are miniscule compared to the information and the concepts that are brought out.
Students who see this will realize the reality of the situations, they will see classmates reflected in the school. It will be the adults who will say "not here" or "that only happens there", and that has always been the case. This has been the issue that America has hidden for too long and Lee has brought it to the forefront.
Rather than cast it down for being not what you or others "think it should have been" raise it up for what it "is". Another film called "Bullied to Silence" is now making the rounds of film festivals. Will it meet all your criteria, probably not if you did not make it. Both need to be supported for the chances they took to personalize a growing problem and how we are changing attitudes,and not simply changing addresses.
“In response to some of the comments that we have to be aware of the facts and not simply "jump" to the decision that bullying was involved, I totally agree. But time and research ( especially the 2001 Secret Service Report on School Safety) usually denotes a possible connection. Almost 2/3 of all school shootings have ties to incidents of bullying. This in no way means that bullying was the only cause but it was a contributing factor.
For me to simply state there was "no" bullying or that bullying " caused" the event are both wrong. We must delve deeper into all the facts before we can make any such statements., but at this time we have conflicting reports. Having been on this road and seeing this unfold time after time, I would lean towards some altercation that led to this might be perceived as bullying to those involved but perhaps not to us as outsiders. I am all for gathering any and all evidence as that will only help us in the future to better address what students are going through and create better interventions.
My heart goes out to all of the families affected. If one bystander had said something to anyone rather than keeping it a secret, all of this may have been averted.
There is no "snitching" or "Tattling" when it comes to safety.
The JillyBean on Feb 29, 2012 at 15:43:58
“how about who raises the bullies? It's not a magical transition that occurs once the kids walk into the school building. Parents need to take responsibility for the adolescents they are raising.”
“To be honest, the "real" problem of anti-bullying has always been the adults. I have confronted this head on while trying to change the system. We as adults we think we "Know" what is best and basically we don't want to change. So we have allowed bad things to get worse. But if we really want to save our kids, then we must relinquish our egos and start over. How to get started? Take what you thought you knew about bullying, put in a box and throw it out. It is a totally new game today. If you use old data and tactics you're going to get someone hurt.
It is all about Education, Engagement and Empowerment.
Educate people (young and old) to what Bullying IS and what it IS NOT.
Engage Community partners (Parents/Police/Mental Health) in the change process and give them the plan, the tools and assignments.
Empower the students to become the activists in the process, to stand up for themselves, support each other (including the bullies) and reverse the power base some bullies have over fellow students.
It is working in schools I have been to. I have seen amazing things done with theater and dance on a topic that no one thought possible. If we listen, our kids will take us in wonderful directions!
As Gandhi said "Be the Change you wish to see in the world"
I am trying, will you?
Rachetwench on Feb 29, 2012 at 09:40:49
“I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for your post.
But, while this is a very, very scary issue, it has not been made clear that this particular issue is about bullying or even drug use. The media need to be much more careful disseminating 'assumed facts,' and stay with reporting what they know, not what they feel.”
“After numerous articles and emails the Huffington Post seemingly continues to propagate misinformation.to sell stories. In earlier stories the HF had noted that Matt Epling was gay and this was a an anti-gay crime, Matt was not gay nor is there any evidence that this was anti-gay bullying.
Major news outlets (MSNBC, Huffinton Post, Steven Colbert etc) are feeding of each others misinformation and all of you need to correct it. (Seemingly the Washington Post was the only outlet to clearly get it right) After two weeks of being notified (and as has now been posted on Matt's web site.) corrections should be made when the error is brought to the news's attention.
As Matt's Dad and on the behalf of parents of other children we have lost from Bullycide I would request again that you check facts, reach out to the parents if you are not sure, and when notified that you correct your information as soon as possible and issue both a retraction and an apology to those affected.
“Wayman, as Matt's father Kevin, please correct your post as Matt was not gay nor was his assault "extensive anti-gay bullying"
I have noted on several web sites that this mis-information is getting picked up and has now become "fact" when no media agency has bothered to double check with his family. After being disrespected by our own Senate whom I have worked with for years for the safety of children across Michigan, I do not feel that Matt or our family should be subject to lack of fact checking. Please post a correction asap.”
Waymon Hudson on Nov 14, 2011 at 13:33:34
“First, thank you so much for the work you've been doing. Second, I've corrected the post to reflect your request. Sorry about picking up the wrong information and thanks again for all you are doing!”
Joel Mendez on Nov 10, 2011 at 22:03:21
“for what they are worth, sir: my condolences on the loss of your son.”