Rochester Rally for Safe & Supportive Schools Act

Posted at: 05/03/2013 10:40 PM
Updated at: 05/03/2013 10:44 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- The group ‘Student Leaders for Change’ gathered at Peace Plaza in Rochester Friday, rallying for legislation to combat bullying in schools.

They were pushing the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, a bill that aims to protect students and provide support for teachers to effectively implement policies to keep students safe. It has yet to pass in both the House and Senate and that's why this group came out in the cold to get the word out, before it’s too late.

"My 21 year-old son took his life in 2006," said Ann Gettis. After her son Jeremiah took his own life, she found something that crushed her even more. "He wrote pages about the bullying and describing what happened and how it made him feel.

He said it made him feel like a loser and he had no self-esteem," said Gettis. Roughly seven years later, those wounds haven’t healed. "There are no words to describe how painful it was then, and it doesn't go away," she said.

However, she pushes through that pain to make a difference. "I am sorry that we have failed... Failed so many of them," Gettis cried to the crowd. She was speaking alongside students who actively work to put a stop to bullying, and by those in the Rochester community.

"We have lots of names around here that we have lost," said councilman Michael Wojcik.

"Regardless of where you are, kids are bullied," said Mayo High School senior Ben McCully.

"Minnesota needs stronger anti-bullying legislation, “said Mayo High School senior Nick McMonigle.

They were rallying Friday, hoping people will spread their message to lawmakers, to vote for a bill to tackle this issue in schools. "We know that Governor Dayton would sign it right away given the chance, so as long as it passes the House and the Senate, that would be wonderful," said McMonigle.

Though it won’t take back what happened to her son, Ann hopes this bill will pass for the sake of future students. "I'm so happy that this might come to pass, that schools will have the tools and resources to effectively address bullying," said Gettis.

If passed, the bill would repeal the current law and Minnesota would adopt the polices under the Safe and Supportive Schools Act.