Chelsea Little, 16, and her mom, Angie Stagge, are among the many advocates who celebrated changes to Indiana’s anti-bullying law Monday.
Little, like many teenagers, stacks bracelets on her arm. For her though, the bracelets each hold special meaning because they say the names of young bullying victims, many who died from suicide. It’s an issue Little knows well herself.
“It makes me (feel like) I’m not alone. I got shoved into lockers and bathroom stalls. I did try to kill myself,” Little said.
That’s why Little and Stagge were among those who pushed for changes to Indiana’s anti-bullying law during this year’s legislative session. The changes went into effect Monday and will affect kids in every school.
“You’ll see every school (will) have to have these guidelines in place,” said Justin Ohlemiller, Executive Director of Stand for Children Indiana.
Every school now must have a bullying policy in place. That means bullying prevention programs, a plan for investigation and reporting procedures, plus teaching age-appropriate bullying prevention to kids in 1st through 12th grades.
“I think it’s a great victory for us and the kids of Indiana,” Stagge said.
A lot of schools already have anti-bullying programs in place, but this will make them mandatory. It also redefines the law’s definition of bullying to include cyber-bullying.
It’s a victory that Little is hoping spurs even more to come.
“I want this to go national. It’s my goal,” Little said.
If you’re wondering about policies in your child’s school, contact your district or the Indiana Department of Education.