Letters (two by Dominique, two by Callie- Scroll down to read all)


Letter to Senator John Gleason (by Dominique)

Dear John Gleason,

My name is Dominique Oudsema and I am a junior at Oakridge High School. My friend Callie Pearson and I are concerned about Michigan not having an anti-bullying law. We believe the bill that currently passed through the Senate is not strong enough to protect school children. We created an anti-bullying group at our high school called A.S.A.B, which stands for All Students Against Bullying. We believe that schools should respond more effectively to harassment situations and there should be stronger laws to enforce a punishment on people who choose to bully others.

We read an article from “The Michigan Messenger,” about how you were protesting the lack of anti-bullying from the Senate and also we read the article explaining what the bill was. We were shocked to read that both the first and second amendments were shot down when offered to mandate the school code. Both of those amendments would help to protect the classes which would make sure that all school students are protected. The second amendment was even offered by a Republican, but was still shot down. We see that yet again the Republican-dominated Senate failed to pass an anti-bullying law that’s strong enough to protect the students, which has been delayed for way too long. The new bill is basically saying that it’s ok for people to bully others as long as its on moral convictions.

We have done a lot of research on the subject of bullying because we feel very strongly against bullying. We know people who were bullied to the point of suicide. One of those people is a member in our group. She was bullied by someone who was supposed to be her friend. When she went to the school for help, they only sent the bully home for one day and the parents didn’t do too much about their daughter bullying. When the bullying continued, she believe that there was nothing other to do then to take her own life since the school, her friends, and her parents didn’t help her effectively. Her first attempted fail and luckily so did her second. After that her parents became more involved in trying to solve this problem, but the school still didn’t offer any help what so ever.

However the other person wasn’t so lucky. She was bullied at work by people who she also believed were her friends. She has so many things happening in her home life that her co-workers didn’t understand. They harassed her to the point that she decided to commit suicide. She couldn’t take their torment anymore and in August of 2010 she took her own life, not wanting to hurt her family but for the bullying to end. There were text messages of the bullying and her supervisor has records of the bullying. The people who bullied her were never punished for their actions. The family of this woman also asked to keep her name out of our letter, but I will say that this person was part of my family.

We always hear people talking about change and how change is good. Then why not change the foundation of the anti-bullying bill? Being able to bully others for moral or religious reasons shouldn’t be allowed. Bullying shouldn’t be allowed at all no matter whom you are for whatever reason. People need to wake up and realize that times are changing and just because someone has a different life style than you, you can’t bully them for that fact. We need to have a bill that will be effective and protect school children. So far the bill does not seem strong enough to be an effective law.

We would like to thank you for reading our letter and we would also like to thank you for supporting the anti-bullying bill. We will be waiting for your response.

Sincerely,

Dominique Oudsema         Callie Pearson   

 

Letter to Senator Gretchen Whitmer (by Dominique)

Dear Gretchen Whitmer,

My name is Dominique Oudsema and I am a junior at Oakridge High School. My friend Callie Pearson, and I are concerned about Michigan being one of the only few states with out an anti-bullying law. We feel that the law that currently passed through the Senate is not strong enough. We believe that it will cause more harm than good. We created an anti-bullying group at our high school called A.S.A.B, which stands for All Students Against Bullying. We believe that schools should respond more effectively to harassment situations and there should be laws to enforce a punishment on people who choose to bully others.
            We have watched the video of your reason why you voted no on the current bill. We have read this bill and also believe that it would do more harm to students. The Senate is made up of more Republicans than Democrats, they are the ones who created and passed this bill. This bill says that it’s alright to bully others as long as you have moral or religious reasons. We personally believe that this bill should not be passed.
            A member in our group used to be bullied. All through middle school she was bullied by someone who was suppose to be her friend. When she went to the school for help, they didn’t do much to help. At the time her friends and parents weren’t much help either. After probably about a year of bullying she decided there was nothing else to do than commit suicide. Her first attempt failed and luckily so did her second. After that her parents became more aware of what was going on. They went to the school again, which was still no help. She decided that her life was worth living even though she was being bullied so much.
           There is one more person close to us that has committed suicide due to bullying. She may not be a young teen but her death still had a huge impact on us creating this group and part of her death was due to bullying. She was bullied at work for many different reasons. The people who did the bullying were suppose to her friends. She switched plants to get away from them but it didn’t stop. With so much going on in her home life, she decided there was nothing else to do other than commit suicide. Her plant supervisor has records of the people bullying her and she also had text messages. In August 2010 my aunt committed suicide due to bullying believing there was nothing else to do and there was nowhere to turn.
           We always hear that the legislators care about the young people and the young people are our future. If legislators cared about the young people then they would have already passed the anti-bullying law and our Michigan students would feel safe in their school environment. They wouldn’t have created a law that would do more harm to the students than not having a law. We need for all of the legislators to care and for a good bill to be passed. We can’t just sit around hoping that the bullying problem will work out itself, we need to take immediate action to protect our students and the future of Michigan.

The students of today are the future leaders of tomorrow.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this letter and we will be waiting for your response. Also thank you for standing up for something we believe in so strongly.

Sincerely,

Dominique Oudsema         Callie Pearson   

 

Letter to The Muskegon Chronicle (by Callie)

My name is Callie Pearson. I am a seventeen year oldOakridgeHigh Schoolstudent. My friend Dominique Oudsema and I have formed a group called A.S.A.B. which stands for All Students Against Bullying. Bullying is a problem worldwide and it is our goal to end bullying, make schools respond more effectively to harassment situations, and bring forth state and federal laws to prosecute bullies.

TheUnited Statescurrently only has three states without an anti-bullying law, andMichiganis currently one of them. The Michigan Senate just recently passed an anti-bullying bill (Senate Bill 137 which passed 26 to 11). The bill was inspired by Matt Epling, aMichiganstudent who had committed suicide in 2002 because of an anti-gay hazing incident. The bill states that every district needs to have an anti-bullying policy and it also specifies that it is alright if the bully has a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction to partake in these activities. In the Huffington post (11/3/11), Senator Gretchen Whitmer stated her dissatisfaction with the bill by saying “As passed today, bullying kids is okay if a student, parent, teacher or school employee can come up with a moral or religious reason for doing it.”

So far, ten Michigan students on record (as stated by Whitmer) have ended their lives due to bullying. One person in our group, who has wished to remain anonymous, is related to someone who has committed suicide because of harassment. Another one of our group members has attempted suicide twice due to bullying. Bullying is a problem inMichigan. A lot of the times, schools don’t respond effectively, which makes us want to change the anti-bullying bill thatMichiganis currently trying to pass. In our opinion, we should change it because it doesn’t do much to help students who are bullied and it has left out a lot of detail. If we pass this bill, it will be worse than not having an anti-bullying law because it specifically outlines what a student can get away with.

There are many types of bullying like physical, emotional, and cyber-bullying. In schools, students aren’t the only victims. A lot of the time, students target teachers and faculty. They also target people on the internet. Today, technology is far more advanced than it used to be, and the younger generations tend to use it more frequently. Cyber-bullying occurs a lot, causing more harm. A term on the internet for bullies is “Trolls,” which are people who cause trouble and are mean “for the fun of it.”

We think that it is a must to stop all types of bullying effectively. People who bully do it because it gives them a sense of power and control which they feel they need because they can’t control their own lives, or so they feel. We would like for bullying to be addressed throughoutMichiganto bring forth a more effective anti-bullying law. If we could create a more effective anti-bullying law that would prosecute bullies effectively and get some form of help for the bullies and their targets, we believe that we could possibly save lives. Why risk losing more people to suicide and depression when we could simply create an effective law to stop bullying? We know that we can not stop every individual being from choosing to be a bully, but we can prevent it with a law that will take action against them and prosecute them for any reason they decide to do it. Moral or immoral, bullying is wrong no matter how you look at it. If a person is being harmed in any way, physically or emotionally, then it is wrong.

We need to end bullying, and this current bill will not do so. Please contact your congressmen to change this bill before it does even more harm. You have the power to change your government, so if you believe that a change is needed, call your congressmen and do something!

 

Sincerely,

 

Callie Pearson                                                                      Dominique Oudsema

 

Letter to Oakridge’s Board of Education (by Callie)

Dear Steve Roomsburg,

 

My name is Callie Pearson. I am a seventeen year oldOakridgeHigh Schoolstudent. My friend Dominique Oudsema and I have formed a group called A.S.A.B. which stands for All Students Against Bullying. Bullying is a problem worldwide and it is our goal to end bullying, make schools respond more effectively to harassment situations, and bring forth state and federal laws to prosecute bullies.

                I’m well aware thatOakridgeHigh Schoolhas a policy against bullying. Every year, we are given a handbook with rules, some of which cover bullying. But what good is a “guidebook” when a school doesn’t follow up with what is proposed? There have been incidents in the past involving bullying that have been reported to teachers, counselors, and the principal and nothing of substance was done. We believe that more should be done in a school system in bullying situations.

                A recent bill, Senate Bill 137 that was passed for revisal, basically stated what bullies could get away with. It states that every school district also must have a policy to prosecute bullies. The bill states that as long as a person had a religious or moral conviction for bullying, that it was alright to bully. Senator Gretchen Whitmer showed how dissatisfied she was with this bill, making valid points about what was wrong with it. Since then, House Bill 4162 has been passed for revisal. It has been removed of the excuse for bullying and now states that there is no excuse for bullying, however it is not detailed enough to solve the problem.

                If a bill is passed, schools will be forced to have an anti-bullying policy, but that does not mean that they will do enough. When I was in the 7th and 8th grade, I was bullied by a girl who was believed to be my friend. When the situation got too bad, I went to the counselor. When the girl hit me hard enough to bruise me and almost fracture a bone, as well as knocking the wind out of me, I decided to take it to the principal. When I arrived in his office with my “friend” (bully) he simply told her to stop bullying me and he dismissed us from his office. Even then I knew that it was wrong of him to do so.

                Schools need to follow up on their policies. What is the point of having a guidebook full of rules that include bullying and hazing, when the school does not follow them effectively? When a school has a set of rules, it is expected of the students to follow them, but it is also expected of the school to follow them. No matter what the bullying situation is, if it happens in a school and is brought to the attention of a staff member, it should be taken care of effectively.

                We need stronger rules and bullying policies at Oakridge. IfMichiganpasses an anti-bullying law, we need to hold true to it. We can not afford to lose any more people to suicide because bullying. I was almost a victim of suicide because I was a target of bullying. We truly believe thatOakridgeSchool Districtneeds to be more effective with their rules and how they handle situations. Students need to be taught to seek an adult who can help if they’re being bullied, instead of being told to stay away from the bully. The school also needs to cover how to handle bullying more effectively.

If a student has to go through a teacher, counselor and a principal because they’re being bullied and nothing has changed, there is something wrong with the schools policy. We believe that if our school is really “for the students” that something efficient needs to happen about bullying situations. Make our school policies stronger, and make stronger rules that stop bullying. A slap on the wrist and telling the students to stay away from each other is not good enough. A situation should not have to be taken to the police, but if a school does not handle it well enough within it vicinities, then the authorities may have to be called in a personal situation and it shouldn’t have to go that far. Work on our policies about bullying. We expect to see a change, as well as expect to hear back from you.

                Sincerely,

 

Callie Pearson                                  Dominique Oudsema

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