About 100 students and parents from across Minnesota rallied at the Capitol in St Paul Saturday afternoon to urge lawmakers to pass stronger legislation against bullying in schools.
Many people held signs that read "Don't bully me." Minnesota's current bullying prevention law is one of the weakest in the nation, and is only 37 words long. Sydney Eberwein, a senior at Mounds Park Academy, is one of four students who led the effort to organize the event. She says bullying can cause depression in students who feel like they have no where to turn.
"If I know that state law requires something of my teachers, requires something of our school, that I'm protected and I feel safe, it really bolsters my confidence that my state believes in me, my state believes that I need to be safe," said Eberwein. "That provides a little more hope for students, which is what we want to accomplish -- we want to provide one student with hope that it's better. that we care. That their peers care."
Eberwein says she hopes seeing students asking for help will spurs legislators to bipartisan action.
Kayley Spencer, a freshman in Watertown, said she was bullied by other students at her school who picked on her over her hair, clothes, or the way she spoke.
"I held it all in, so then it builds up and I had no one to tell. So I went home and I'd cry at night," she said. "I had thoughts of self harm, and it was really not until I heard someone else's story and I really knew I'm not alone ... and I can tell someone."
Organizers say they hope student voices humanize the issue and promote bipartisan action on legislation.