High school students in Aledo, Illinois, are trying to get a law passed called Valerie’s Law, a measure aimed at reducing bullying at schools in the state, WQAD-TV-8 in Moline reports.
Their drive is named after Valerie Carlson, who committed suicide in March at the age of 15. Some of her friends say she was a victim of bullying at Mercer County High School in Aledo, although one parent disputes parts of the story, according to a report in the Dispatch-Argus.
“This girl, she was not a victim,” the paper quoted Sarah Jackson, the alleged bully’s mother, as saying. She also said her son and Valerie were friends and argued occasionally but that those arguments were sometimes instigated by Valerie. “Everyone argues. … It’s very sad what happened. She was my son’s friend, but she’s gone.”
Her son reportedly told Valerie to kill herself on the day of her death. Ms Jackson disputes the fidelity of that report as well. “I understand that you want to blame somebody. Some kids are mentally ill,” she was quoted as saying. “We have a phenomenal school district and law enforcement. We keep getting the bad rap.”
Three of Valerie’s friends have begun the Anti-Bullying Community, or A-B-C, to work for a law that would make bullying a misdemeanor in Illinois after three strikes.
Alexsha Spangler, Mallory Mazzocco, and Mikayla Thomas hope the law will give bullies a chance to change their behavior, as opposed to a “zero-tolerance” policy they say the school district now has in place, which they believe has had little effect.
“Because [the zero-tolerance policy] is not enforced, the most bullies get is a slap on the wrist,” WQAD-TV-8 quoted Ms Mazzocco as saying.
- Sign the “Say YES to Valerie’s Law” petition if you want
The petition is nearing its goal of a thousand signatures, and the group plans to present it to a state representative in the near future.
Comments posted to the petition by supporters show a litany of anonymous charges against students in the district, including this one:
My son and daughter both are also victims of bullying. My neice is bullied for her skin color in this same district. Bullying is everywhere in that school district. Too many of these children are being tortured for just being different. My son has expressed suicidal thoughts so we got him help. I hope it’s enough.
Under the law being sought by the group, Illinois parents would have the option to request legal consequences for a habitual bully after all school consequences have been exhausted.
“The efforts of her friends to pass an anti-bullying law are admirable and a testament to their deep feelings for Valerie,” the Argus-Dispatch quoted Illinois state Sen Chuck Weaver as saying. “These young people are to be commended for working to understand all the factors and pressures in Valerie’s death, and helping others who might find themselves in the same situation. My office will do all we can to honor Valerie’s life and respect the wishes of her family.”