I had the privilege this morning to witness a group of courageous young people literally standing up and speaking out for a cause they believe in. The House Education Committee of the Indiana General Assembly was gathered in a basement hearing room to consider HB 362, a bill calling for our state to do a better job protecting young people from bullying and bullies. Filling a large number of seats were a group of young people who took part of their day off from school in order to testify in favor of this measure. Some were members of MCCOY’s Youth Advocacy Council while other were youth who had heard about the bill and wanted to have their say. And they all had powerful words to share.
They related stories of how they had been bullied and told of friends and family members who had been victimized as well. They made clear that this was not harmless teasing or “just kids being kids” by talking about their own experiences; one young lady told them how she had attempted to end her anguish by committing suicide. They articulated the many reasons that our state should no longer be one of the handful that fails to protect children and youth; most of all, they called for an end to the needless suffering and pain that bullying inflicts upon way too many children and youth each and every day.
The legislators were impressed, moved, and motivated by these inspiring words and they passed HB 362 out of committee and sent it to the full House. Lots of folks are responsible for this success; but from my vantage point, our young people carried the day! It is proof once again, that given the opportunity, young people can lead us in ways that we need to go.