Just got back from 6wks overseas working on video productions for Michigan State University. Whew what a trip. Video clips can be found at Spartans Will 360 other stories can be found there.
Back a few weeks and already attended panel discussions and screenings of the film "Bully". Jackson public Schools in MI did a phenomenal job with this:Full Story
Now working on the Second Annual Stand4Change event on May 3rd 2013 (Ask your school to sign up today)
Also working with DefeatTheLabel and "We are the World" creator Ken Kragen on an anti-bullying anthem. The song is written and artists are being sought out.
Have several schools and events lined up for the end of the school and planning next years events and talks already.
Thanks for all your support. Together we can make a difference.
Aug-October have been busy! Another National Anti-bullying Summit in D.C. Almost another 5-6,000 students across the state. Forsythe MS ( Ann Arbor), White Pine MS ( Saginaw), Laingsburg Schools (1-12) Additional Conferences at Delta College and SVSU and being honored by Fight Crime Invest in Kids and the Comprehensive School Health Educators Association for our work on anti-bullying. Heading to Detroit area to work with the Beaumont Children's Hospital's NOble program ( NO Bullying Live Empowered) We just keep moving along and opening the doors for more schools and students to Be the Change!
I Support Whitney Kropp:
Whitney and all of your supporters, there are so many across MI and now across America who are proud of you and what you are doing. You have taken a terrible situation and turned it around with grace and dignity. It was 10 years ago when our family was drafted into the war on bullying because of the loss of our son Matt. Even then I tried to educate people on the power of community in anti-bullying, and now after the passage of "Matt's Law" this has to be the most impressive community "empowerment" campaign I have ever seen.
Enjoy Friday, this night belongs to YOU and YOUR community. Thank you for not being silent and for being strong.
You Rock! Peace
Matt's Dad, Kevin
Attended several panel discussions lately and will be heading to Washington D.C. for the Dept. of Educations Anti-bullying summit. ( August 6/7) It is an invite only event stemming from the original White House Summit in 2010. Hope to see some old friends and some new ones, and hopefully find out what long range plans are being worked on.
A short portion of one of my anti-bullying talks during a TEDx Session sponsored by the International Student Association.
ONE POINT THREE MILLION STUDENTS RESPONDED!!!!!!
Truly an awesome event to be apart of. Thanks to all those schools around the globe who participated; from the USA to AUS to Iceland to Dubai, You Guys Rock!
Be sure to ask your school if they are part of the fastest growing international movement on anti-bullying: Stand4Change!
We now have almost 800,000 students ready to make a stand, will you?
Please share the videos below with anyone and everyone who can helps us make a change in our schools around the world.
Had the opportunity to view the film "Bully" at the Uptown Film Festival in Birmingham MI. A wonderful film that all school age kids NEED to SEE. I think the MPAA is wrong in trying to prohibit the very people who need to see this, from actually seeing it: Kids! The instances of foul language are minimal compared to other "R" rated movies that this age group has already seen. (or even other PG-13 movies with strong sexual or violent content) If the MPAA rates the actual language used as "R" then doesn't that denote our schools are "R" rated as well? Will the MPAA now be working with the Dept. of Education on providing movie posters to every school that denote "Due to offensive language, this school is rated "R" by the MPAA" ? I am positive that students hear more in a single day than this film delivers in 1:37 min.
We are at a pivotal point in making change on the issue of bullying in America's schools and again we get roadblocked by adults adhering to "rules and regulations". Not by realities that perhaps those "rules" are outdated or can be bent to allow a socially relevant film to actually help communities rather than just providing mindless drivel to keep kids "occupied" for 2 hrs.
We have to do better and we can. Thank you Lee Hirsch and all the families who participated in the film in any way.
Photo Courtesy David Olds, Michigan Senate Photographer
"Matt's Law" was signed into law on Dec 6 2011! We have only been working on this for 6 years. Michigan Schools now have 6 months to develop their policies, Then they must turn them into the State Board of Education for collection within 30 days.
This is a great accomplishment for all involved and we know it will make schools safer for kids in the long run. Now it is on to the implementation phase and help schools with policy matters and hopefully energize students to becoming the Agents of Change I know they can be!
I have seen numerous articles, new reports over the last week and many have had inaccurate information and in some cases have noted that Matt was gay to seemingly justify the action taken upon him by his attackers as 'an anti-gay crime". This is wrong and unethical. Matt was not gay, nor does it matter, or would it have matter as a parent. Matt was our son there is nothing that would have changed our love for Matt. Matt was assaulted for being who he was, a bright, caring, outgoing young man with a world of promise ahead of him. Others thought it was perfectly okay to assault their fellow classmates and targeted Matt and dashed his outlook. No one should be a target for any reason. Now Matt and our family have been re-victimized by the media for not simply checking facts. The basic rule of journalism; check your facts and then check them again. Please post your corrections as soon as possible to protect Matt from further victimization
Matt's family thanks you
Our lawmakers have chosen to add very quickly and secretly a provision in the current version of "Mat's Safe School Law" that will in a sense actually allow bullying on the grounds of religious and moral ground. So rather than providing a blueprint for schools to handle the situation, they have given students an easy out to assault,harass, belittle and harm fellow students with no recourse by the schools. Religion should never be used as a weapon and in no circumstance should a state entity "sanction" violence in the name of religion.
Rather than moving forward with positive additions to the bill after is was gutted, and for years stating "no specially protected classes" they put their own in: religion ( which by the way was in the original list of taboo subjects they rejected, (now 3 x) of something that should have made school safer not place more kids in fear of retaliation.
I want to thank our Democratic leadership in their swift response to this travesty My own comments appear below as well.
Tammy and I were interviewed along with several other parents about this growing concern across our nation. Watch the show and call your state legislator and ask why "Matt's Law" is not a law.
Mark your Calaendars! Friday Sept. 16th 8 PM! CBS/48HRS Special on Bullying! Will showcase stories from "The Bullycide Project", Matt's, Kristina Calco's and Jesse Logan.
Heading to Wash. D.C. Sept 21/22 for the national anti-bullying Summit. Let's begin the change!
Several schools and conferences on the horizon. Invited back to present at the National NAEYC Conf in FL in Nov.
Went to NY in Aug. for "accept ME" at the Joyce Theater. As usual Awesome performances from one of the top dance schools in the U.S.!
Waiting to hear what will happen with the bill for the fall. My emails are not being answered.
On June 29th, 2011, the MI House of Representatives heard testimony on "Matt's Law" once again, but eventually it was tabled utnil the fall because a new revised bill will be introduced. In some ways this is a good step as other items of safety will be placed back into the bill. Opposition groups had so derailed the bill on the issue of sex that many issues of safety had been ommitted as well. So now I rest for the summer and hit the road again in August.
Hopefully fall 2011 will see its passage after 10 years.
The current version of "Matt's Law" SB137S-1, is now heading to the Senate floor. Sadly additional language has been taken out that makes it do even less than our last session. You can find all versions of MI anti-bullying bills on this page
Even after our Governor called for "Comprehensive Anti-bullying legislation" and even after testimony and additional amendments being offered, the lesser version was adopted. We still have the opportunities on the Senate floor for amendments and perhaps another hearing in the House, once passed by the Senate.
Read Senate Bill 137 and Senate bill 45 and see which would be deemed more comprehensive across the board.
It is now in your hands, the hands of the voters to contact your legislators and say we need more for our children.
Mark your calendars May 12th "Rally for our Children" We need to gather at our states capitol and ask for passage of "Matt's Law" which is long over due (MI is now one of the last 5 states without an anti-bullying law), and stand up for our kids and call attention to the overwhelming cuts to education in MI. We are welcoming Mr. Brett Scudder from New York and other local officials and legislators to stand with us to ensure a better MI for our children.
Our kids are MI future. If we don't protect them and educate them, no companies will come to MI with a poor educational system, PERIOD.
Our kids are too important to stand on the sidelines.
WHITE HOUSE ANTI-BULLYING SUMMIT
Just got back from the White House Anti-Bullying summit. Honored to have been chosen and it was a wonderful experience.
Here I am with fellow parent Tina Meier behind the President as he opens the summit.
There are now SIX bills introduced in the MI House and Senate in regards to bullying. Here are the new numbers and links to the respective laws.
Full Seven page bill as originally introduced in 2005: (identical)
Senator Glenn Anderson Senate Bill 0045 (2011)
Representative Mark Meadows House Bill 4173 (2011)
Revised version of the bill reintroduced as it was on the last day of session in 2010 ( identical)
Senator Jones, Senate Bill 0137 (2011)
Representative Potvin House Bill 4163 (2011)
Another 2 bills on Cyberbullying have been introduced (identical)
Senator Whitmer Senate Bill 0147 (2011)
House Bill 4391 (2011)
Matt's parents Kevin and Tammy and Sister Kristen have established this web site to honor Matt and to remember all that he accomplished in his short time here. We were very proud of Matt and we were looking forward to the young man he would one day become. We will hold in our hearts all the gifts he gave to us. All of us will remember and cherish the special times we shared together. We miss him everyday, but every time we hear a good joke, the sound of Matt's laughter will echo in our hearts.
Remember those lost at Columbine 4/20/99 and Virgina Tech 4/16/07. We cannot allow this to happen here in MIchigan. Contact you legislator to help pass "Matt's Law" for the safety of our children.
Find us on Facebook, Matt Safe School Initiative group
MI Legislators set to fail our children again?
How is it that after two years we find ourselves at the same crossroads while other states have moved forward? Sadly MI remains one of five states with no anti-bullying law to help usher in progress in dealing with the most common form of violence in our schools. Adults need to approach the mirror and honestly declare, “You have brought us to this point, you must reverse course.” Yet key legislators still ignore parents, fellow lawmakers and the growing research and say “bullying is not a problem”.
Excuses for stopping the bill have been ridiculous at best. Sen. Alan Cropsey killed the bill in 2008 because” There was not enough time to review the bill”. Now he offers almost the same excuse. What has he or his staff done with their time since it passed the House? He also warns “a rise in lawsuits”, which has not been substantiated in the other 45 “progressive” states. In fact a comprehensive plan can help prevent lawsuits.
Sen. Kuipers has now stated he “Asked for changes in the language, which was not done.” What changes? The language is the same as when he himself voted for it and unanimously passed it from his committee in 2008 to the Senate floor. So if he approved the language then, why the about face? Sen. Kuiper’s also told lobbyist he would attend to the legislation AFTER the primaries (so not to interfere with his campaign) but that never happened either.
Now Sen. Bishop has now joined the chorus telling a lobbyist”only important bills will be taken up in lame duck.” So our kid’s futures are not important? I am sorry Sen. Bishop but I and other parents and educators think differently. There is nothing more important to help rebuild MI than our children.
Lawmakers are still misleading constituents with incorrect information that this is all about giving “certain” kids “preferential” treatment. Read the bill. Yes, a line states that, “(bullying) is reasonably motivated by animus and perceived characteristic” and that is exactly the basis of WHAT bullying IS. We must understand this before we can implement change. I find it morally wrong and offensive that the “perceived characteristic” of being a “Nerd” can be used to get someone elected, but others cry foul when we use the same logic to protect children. I find that notion not only being out of touch with today’s school climate and society, but totally out of line.
Mi has since lost four additional children to bullycide since 2008. We the public must call and email to prevent opinion from overshadowing democracy. Governor Elect Snyder, as you have begun your transition building, reach out to those within your own party to leave a lasting legacy for our children. Do not leave this to the next legislature; those within the current legislature deserve to see their work completed. Three men’s opinions should not uphold progress and in turn deliver potential death sentences to more MI students.
call and email today!
Flyer for the performances. Thursday is already sold out. We are working with Lori Thompson on a play about Bullycide in America and Matt's story will be one of several in the play. Hopefully this will become something that can be shared with schools and educators.
Flyer for the performances. Thursday is already sold out.
We are working with Lori Thompson on a play about Bullycide in America and Matt's story will be one of several in the play. Hopefully this will become something that can be shared with schools and educators.
Spoke to Educators at Crestwood Schools and at Heritage Academy near Detroit.
Spoke before the National Victims of Crime this past month. Have two more engagements later this month and then off to CA for the National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference 11/4-6 ( we present on Friday 11/5 @ 4-5pm, 400 seat theater)
Will be at the Willard Library in Battle Creek on 11/29/10 as well for afternoon and evening talk sessions.
Firming up two school sessions in Mid-November too.
Thanks to all those who attended our vigil and those around the globe from Australia to California. In one day we made an impact. For those of you in Michigan, our time is running out. We need your help to cal, write, email and visit with your state Senator and ask them to move on "Matt's Law" before the election. Our Senators have held this bill for the past eight years, and children have died because of it. We have lost time to educate and train students and teachers on this ever-growing issue. Here is the link to find your Senator
Here is the link to the current version of House BIll 4580 which has passed the House in 2009 and has been sitting in the Senate Education Committee. Senator Wayne Kuipers is the chair and please feel free to contact him to pass it from his committee to the Senate floor for a vote.
Also Contact Sen. Alan Cropsey and ask him to allow the bill to the floor. Sen. Cropsey did not allow it to the floor even at the request of fellow Republican leaders, and the bill has to be re-introduced. If he is not willing to stop standing up for school lawyers and not our children, ask him to step aside and allow thopse who wish to help move it forward.
READ the bill before you write or call. Many Senator's have not taken the time to read the full two pages and are currently acting on impressions and mis-information from influential Senators based on older versions of the bill. Many Senators speak of language that is no longer contained within the bill.
Our Senators have done nothing but throw roadblocks in our way to stop us from helping our children. Each one has been overcomne and a new one presented. Each time it is to remove and weaken the bill rather than to strengthen it. Or to revise language they thought was too strict and when revise they call too broad.
Simply, if the party that chooses not to finish what they staretd and try to leave it to the next group of lawmakers, which will mean years of re-education on the issue and possibly more deaths, that party should not recieve citizens votes in the fall. For every office.
Ask our politicians to stop playing politics with the lives of our children.
Vigils are being planned for 8/24/10 from 7-8pm at various locations. 20 states and five countries will have gatherings to remember our bullycide victims. Gatherings may be large or small and consist of a moment of silence, lighting a candle for those we've lost and simply talking about the issue of bullying, bullycide and violence in our schools.
This idea was spawned by a group of Upward Bound students in Oklahoma after Ty Smalley ended his life at age 11 due to bullying. Be the Change in your area and Stand for the Silent.
Posting a video clip of an interview with Michael Patrick Shiels I did in the Spring. Two PartsSadly we are still waiting for movement. My gut is telling me nothing will be done until after the elections and then very little if that.
There has not been much progress on "Matt's Law" as those who can actually move the legislation feel it will be better for their own poitical hides to hold it until after the primaries. The rumblings of the witch hunts have already been sounded against those who would vote for it. "Vote for it and we'll get you in the elections", Bullying at its best. I am also certain that once they hold it for the primaries they will then hold it until after the elections. I grow further ashamed of the conduct of those we elect to be our leaders, but who only show themselves as simple followers of the demands of others and their "contributions". State by state has passed us and yet our children suffer our schools suffer because our elected officials choose to squabble like preschoolers rather than educated adults.
2010 Matt Epling Creative Art Competiton is underway! Forms have gone out to the middle schools and things are going to be picking up for our fifth year!!!
Forms have gone out to the middle schools and things are going to be picking up for our fifth year!!!
As the nation's eyes are on Mass. and what transpires with the students accused of the bullying, I am looking towards the return of our Legislature in MI. Hopefully well rested and informed of what happened in Mass. we can look at moving anti-bullying forward. Maybe, but I won't hold my breath. I applaud Mass. legislature who decided to take action after the loss of two students, while here in MI the loss of eight students has not phazed our legislature. Our children are our future, but not when we fail to support their ability to learn in safety.
Sadly we have lost another child in MI to bullycide. And Mass. passes their bill within a month 186-0. Honestly what is wrong with our legislators. Contact them to move "Matt's Law" before Spring Break. After May they will be completely self absorbed with their own elections. Our kids deserve better. Also it is the time to note those who have failed to speak up on this issue and think about taking action this fall.
In memory of 12-year-old Kimberly Linczeski, our hearts go out to her friends and family.
Here we are in the first month of 2010, almost eight years after Matt's passing and I've already been contacted by several schools about speaking and parents about incidents with their children. Asking for help and information, and what they can do. The national news is once again being focused on "Bullycide". A 9 yr old in Texas and a 15 yr old in Mass. and two possible cases here in MI. Yes 9, and the details are still being uncovered.
The Mass. legislature is currently debating anti-bullying legislation after hundreds of parents flood the schools asking for answers and help. This is also in the wake of Carl Walker's suicide last year. If we do not push our legislators, MI will most likely be the last state to help our children.
In the wake of these tragedies and in memory of those we've lost here in MI already we need to ask our legislators to pass "Matt's Law" before Spring Break so our schools can prepare for the fall.
This issue has been sidestepped for too long and I worry it will be overlooked by our legislature in favor of getting votes in the fall. I am also saddened that we lose another child each year and our legislators still don't listen. And if they do overlook our children once again, we all need to remember it this fall.
I get the calls and emails, and I do what I can. I can see the change in the schools who are making the effort before being "told to" and I admire what they are doing. But they are the exceptional exceptions. We need to make sure the students and parents and local law enforcement and others are actively involved in the change process.
That change is what will save a life, and that is all we can hope for.
We've been plugging away with trainings and school visits while still working on the legislation. Our eyes are glued toward the end of the year as we know once the new year comes the time for the bill will be limited. We need to keep the pressure on.
Within the past month we've talked with the Michigan Medical Society Auxillary, presented at the MI Parent Conference and visted Immanuel Lutheran Church (where we did our very first anti-bullying session for Preschoolers!) and held a training with Glenn Stutzky M.S.W.for conselors, social workers and educators in the St. Clair area. Close to 150 people attended and another 50 during a community session.
On Dec. 2 I visited Dakota High School and talked with the student body and teachers ( close to 2000 students!) It was frighting and awesome experience. I was amazed at the attention of the students during all four assemblies, and the thanks by some of them brought tears to my eyes.
Next up we're helping bring the play "Ticking" to Lansing for our lawmakers to see. Hopefully they will hear from the students themselves what is happening in our schools.
As we close out this year we think of those who have lost children to school violence and send our thoughts to them at this difficult time of the year.
It has been the beginning of a busy backto school season. Tammy and I finished our first Pre-schooler Anti-bullying session. It was a wonderful experience, and the kids were great! In all finished three anti-bullying sessions at Immanuel Luthern Church in St. Clair MI. Thanks to Renee Jones for inviting us. I will be heading back there on Nov. 30th for an addiitonal seminar and town hall meeting with Glenn Stutzky.
Also coming up is the Michigan Parenting Awareness Conference and the Michigan Medical Association meeting on Nov. 9th. A possible conference in Nov and another school visit in Dec.
Sadly I heard of another death in California, and of another group of parents who are dealing with their loss. Our hearts go out to them but they like us have chosen to remember their son by becoming advocates for other children. You can see what they are doing by visiting http://www.jeremiah51.com/
Tomorrow September 29th, is Bullycide Awareness Day and we along with many others across our state and across the nation will remember those children we have lost to suicide connected to peer abuse. Although the term seems new, it has been tied to deaths as far back as the late sixties. People still believe this is a new issue, because only now are we seeing the parents and the families of the fallen finally coming forth to talk openly about it.
The loss of a family member to suicide is the most traumatic loss, and losing achild even worse. We as a society have been taught not to address the issues that may bother others. But we need to do so, not to blame others,but to save others. This is why we need a Bullycide Awareness Day.
By speaking out other families have been saved the pain of losing a child, schools have begun to look at their own rules, students have come up with new ideas and states have pushed forward with, laws to help ensure our children's safety.
Some states such as Michigan are still lacking these laws and with tough economic times ahead for many, it is paramount that schools develop and follow policies and procedures for all of our students.
We remember those students who have suffered at the hands of their classmates and encourage other students to not stand idly by but to help break the cycle of bullying and be the change in their own school.
It is amazing that children can do what legislators cannot. Especially when the need for safety and saving lives outweighs the need for saving pennies.
It's hard to believe that it has been seven years since we lost Matt. Six of those have been spent trying to make things better for other kids here in MI. It has not been easy at times, yet we have seen progress. There have been those who have actively tried to stop the progress being made, both publically and behind the scenes. But they have been countered by those who see the end goal, and continue to push forward and do not simply stop at each hurdle along the route. And we thank you for the support through the years.
Of course there have been differences of opinion but we continue to partner with anyone who sees beyond the squabbles of age/race/orientation/sex/social status/politics and or group affiliation. This is, has been, and always will be, about the kids and their Safety.
No one group, person, or child holds the rights to safety, it is for all to be administered and shared. By cutting to the root causes of school violence, and not be swayed by "what my individual child needs", or what "my group requires" or "my constituents say..", and look at the entire school/community population can we begin to rebuild stronger, safer and more inclusive schools.
There is now talk of Federal legislation to curb bullying within our schools and more parents have stepped forward to help others. But to do so with compassion and education not simply through more rules and expulsions. I will be contacting the MI representatives on this matter.
Even in tough economic times we must support investment in our future. It is our goal that we collectively challenge our local lawmakers to finally pass "Matt's Law" in MI, and set a positive course for all Michigan Schools. Contact SenatorJelenik, email@example.com to move "Matt's Law" forward in the Senate and Rep Byrnes firstname.lastname@example.org to move it forward in the House.
We will keep you posted as progress is made.
New bills introduced, Senate Bill 275 and House BIll 4850 are identical to what left the Senate Education Committee in December 2008. Senate Bill 159 has also been introduced and this is the full legislation introduced in 2007. Our sincere thanks to Rep. Byrnes, and Senators Jelinik and Anderson for thier efforts on behalf of Michigan's children.
Copies of the bills can be found on the MI legislative web site by typing in the bill number.
On Facebook? A new group has been created to help keep you updated.
"Matt's Safe School" Initiative, MI is the name. Join and ask your friends to do so as well so we can show our legislators people across the state know this is the right thing for ourchildren.
We are planning new date for the next Safe School Lobby Day, and will let people know soon.
Check out Matt's Video in the video section.
The current Miss Capitol City, Tiffany Griffin has chosen the issue of bullying as her platform,"Be a Buddy, Not a Bully". Both as the important social cause it is and from her own personal experience.
We are happy to help to join forces with her and support her. We ask that you help us cheer her on during the upcoming Miss Michigan competition later this summer.
Tiffany we applaud you and all you are doing for all of our children.
Visit her website for additional information.
Miss Capitol City, Tiffany Griffin
"Matt's Law" Re-introduced!
"Matt's Law" was re-introduced as Senate bill 275 on 2/19/09. We would like to thank Senator Jelinek and his co-sponsors Sen. Anderson, Hunter, Richardville, Cherry, Pappageorge, Barcia and Clark. The bill has been referred to the Senate Education COmmitee. The committe is chaired by Sen, Kuipers who ahd previously released the bill from his committee prior to the end of the session.
We would expect to have swift movement ( hopefully not another two year delay) in Sen, Kuipers committee.
We are waiting for the legislation to be introduced in the House as well.
People can contact their legislators and ask them for passage of "Matt's Law" soon so we can begin to work with schools on drafting new policies.
Again we thank these legislators for looking out for the safety of our children.
"Matt's Law" dies on Senate floor.
Senate Education Committee Chair Senator Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland) joined
long-time champions Senators Glen Anderson (D-Westland), Samuel "Buzz"
Thomas (D-Detroit), Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) and Randy Richardville
(R-Monroe) in the fight for final passage, a struggle which lasted
throughout the day Thursday and continued until the early morning of Friday,
The initiative was killed by one person, Senate Floor Leader Alan Cropsey
Despite a lengthy Republican caucus meeting on the issue, Majority Leader
Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and the majority of his caucus - who otherwise
supported the bills - were unwilling to challenge Floor Leader Cropsey.
"It is a sad day for all of us," said bill sponsor Rep. Pam Byrnes
(D-Chelsea), "but especially for the young people of our state and their
parents who were counting on this forward-looking policy to make Michigan
schools safe for learning."
"It saddens me that a political agenda moved ahead of the needs of
students," said Kevin Epling, father of Matt Epling and a long time champion
of anti-bullying efforts in Michigan. "It is unbelievable that one person
can determine policy for an entire state."
Please contact Senator Cropsey's office on your response to his actions.
December Deadline Looming!
Your help is needed to help pass Matt's Law!
"Matt's Law" needs to pass the Michigan Senate this fall session or it will fail and we will have to start all over again. So much work has gone into this bill and we as parents cannot allow this to happen. Contact your Senator today and read how you can help.
Hear comments from Kevin Epling, Sen. Glenn Anderson and Rep. Pam Byrnes about "Matt's Law"