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Bullying Victim's Mother Applauds New Law

Posted at 10:15 PM, Dec 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-30 13:10:04-05

LANSING, Mich. — One bill the governor signed into law Thursday, makes cyberbullying a crime in Michigan.

FOX 47 News' Alani Letang talked with a mother whose daughter was bullied through social media. She told us that she's more than happy to see this come into law.

Even after years of bullying, she said her daughter is still experiencing the side effects it can leave.

"My daughter's health...she had depression, anxiety, didn't want to go to school," said Alana, mother of daughter bullied.

Whether it was on the internet, or through text, Alana's daughter was bullied for years at Holt Public Schools.

"They would join in these groups 20-30 kids in a group, and they would include her and include her brother. And just talk name-calling," said Alana.

It's the posts that called Alana's daughter derogatory names, and threatened to kill her that Alana felt the school district didn't take seriously.

"And that's what needs to stop, they need to stop dismissing it as drama. At the end of the day, drama is bullying," said Alana.

Although Alana is excited to hear about this new law, she is hoping that not being listened to will become a thing of the past.

"The people that think they can hide behind a computer screen, getting away with bullying just because it's not in person. We have ways to find out who they are behind the computer screen and charge them specifically with this crime," Leuitenant Darren Green, Michigan State Police Public Information Officer.

The US Department of Health and Human Services defines cyberbullying as bullying that takes places over digital devices, like cell phones, computers, or tablets.

The law would make that a misdemeanor if the online post is intended to cause violence or become threatening.

The penalty marks up to a felony is the victim is harmed or dies.

"It's going to start with parents communicating with their children. Letting them know they feel comfortable coming to them if they feel like they are being bullied," said Green.

Police told FOX 47 News technology is the way kids and society prefer to communicate. In return, law enforcement and prosecutors must adapt to those societal changes.

"Before it would just be harassment or intimidation. Now it's specific to social media and cyberbullying gives prosecutors another option when they review our investigation

Police suggest that you talk with your kids about appropriate and inappropriate ways to communicate on social media and the internet. They also suggest that parents use some sort of parental controls. However, cyberbullying is not just for kids, adults can become victims as well.

Below are some resources for bullying.