Indiana passes anti-bullying guidelines
Their voices were finally heard. That was the reaction of a mother who recently lost a daughter to suicide. She was a victim of bullying.
It was an emotional scene in the balcony of the Indiana Senate as a group of mothers huddled together to get a new law passed making the Indiana Department of Education establish uniform anti-bullying guidelines for the first time.
The bill defines bullying, giving the courts a clear definition or threshold to be met. It also requires schools to report instances of bullying and outlines procedures for schools to follow in dealing with it.
Angie Stagge was lucky enough to spend a little floor time with her son Levi Wednesday morning before she left for the Indiana Statehouse.
In her Fairland home, Stagge explained why she felt she needed to go.
"We want to be there when they pass it, before it goes to the governor's desk," she said.
So Stagge left to go pick up her 16-year-old daughter Chelsea at school and the two began the 27-mile trek northwest to the state capital.
As she drove her Trailblazer toward Indianapolis, Stagge talked with her daughter.
"We all have children. It shouldn't matter how much money we have or how famous we are," she said.
A victim of bullying at her former high school, Chelsea wants to be there when lawmakers vote on a bill on bullying.
Chelsea sat in the front side passenger seat as her mom drove. She knows the importance of this day.
"Today is one of those things. I think of it as the voice of those kids that committed suicide," she said.
Her mom revealed just how serious the situation was.
"She did try to take her life. It's been a rough road for her but she is doing so much better now," said Stagge.
Now she wants to be a voice for those who feel they have lost theirs. So as the Senate voted, Chelsea and her mother huddled together with two mothers who both lost daughters to suicide in the last year because of bullying. Both held up their daughter's pictures in the balcony as the vote was taken. The bill passed 36-14.
Outside the chamber the emotions spilled over.
Lana Swoape was one of those in the balcony clutching a picture of her daughter Tory.
"Now the kids will have a voice. It's incredible. The thumbs up from the senators when they looked up at us was the best. It was amazing," said Swoape.
Danielle Green was standing next to her clutching a picture of her daughter Angel.
"My daughter's voice was finally heard. Everybody in Indiana your children will be heard. Their voices will mean something. Schools will have to do something now and children will not have to suffer alone," she said.
Chelsea was happy that she lived to see this moment.
"It feels really good to know that even though I am young I was finally heard," she said.
That is what brought all these mothers together. That is the message they now believe that will resonate to schools all across Indiana.