The mother of a boy who committed suicide after being bullied is speaking out against an anti-bullying bill, which will be up for debate in the Minnesota legislative session.
Kathy Trosvik, whose son was a fifth-grader at Fridley Middle School in 2006, was being bullied at school. Trosvik’s son, Tom, was 12 years old when he came home from school and, without warning, took his own life. She only later found out that Tom’s bus driver had noticed the bullying, according to KSTP.
Supporters of the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, which aims to protect children and make schools safer, say Minnesota’s current 37-word statue on bullying is too weak. The current law directs school districts to have a bullying policy, but doesn’t offer guidance on what the policy should do.
In a public service announcement produced by the Minnesota Child Protection League, Trosvik said the bill will do nothing to protect children who are being bullied.
One of Trosvik's biggest concerns is that the bill does not require schools to notify parents of the accused child or the bullied child in all cases. The bill would allow a child to decide if parents should be notified, according to the Minnesota Child Protection League.
Part of the bill, which has garnered a lot of criticism, focuses on forbidding bullying based on race, religion, physical appearance and sexual orientation, among other categories. Trosvik told KSTP her son didn’t fit into any of those categories.
“It should be just a blanket statement: All children are protected,” Trosvik told KSTP.
Trosvik does not think this bill would have helped her son.
"Tom still would have come home off that bus, I wouldn't have known anything about it, even then, he would have taken his life. Nobody reported anything. Nobody did anything. So how could this bill have helped him?" Trosvik told KSTP.
Supporters of the bill say Trosvik’s concerns are unfounded, according to KSTP, and the new bill would turn Minnesota’s law into one of the strongest in the nation. Supporters maintain the bill provides a definition of bullying, specific procedures and training for staff to spot and prevent bullying.
Critics argue the law could create unfunded mandates for districts that would be required to pay for additional staff training. Researchers estimate implementing the bill could cost between $5 million and $20 million statewide. Opponents add it takes control away from local educators.
Trosvik is voicing her concern by sharing her son's story and urging lawmakers to vote no in a video by the Minnesota Child Protection League.Trosvik, along with other critics, want lawmakers to draft a different bill that will maintain local control
Last year, the bullying bill passed in the House, but the 2013 legislative session ended before passing in the Senate. It will be up for debate in this session, which lasts from Feb. 25 to mid-May. The legislation grew out of recommendations from a task force created by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2012.