Michigan's Anti-Bullying Effort Gets Boost From Recording Artist

By: Lindsay Veremis Email
By: Lindsay Veremis Email

A room of mid-Michigan teachers and parents expected a lesson on the legalities of bullying during a Tuesday summit at the Lansing Center. They got that, but also a sudden burst of song, with an all-too current message.

"We don't want to focus on just what it looks like to be bullied, but we want to say hey I'll never leave you, if you go through that I've got your back, I'm not going to leave you," presenter Keenan West explained. "I'm going to build you up, I'm going to support you."

West is a recording artist, turned anti-bullying advocate. His song "Never Ever" and music video caught the attention of Michigan's attorney general.

"We thought it was spot on, his message of saying no to bullying, his message of self esteem and his message of encouraging young people to stand together against bullying I think was powerful," Attorney General Bill Schuette said.

He says it's working.

"Let me put it this way, there were 500 seventh and eighth graders in a room quiet," Schuette explained.

Of course, bullying is nothing new. The problem has been around as long as schools themselves, but facebook, twitter and cell phones are making it all to instantaneous and often difficult to catch.

The state is trying to change that with training, bringing teachers and parents of bullied children together.

"We're sitting at tables and conversing and sharing and finding out in different parts of the state what programs are available," school mental health specialist Catherine Beagle said.

It's a cause they know could be lifesaving. West says you only need to look at his video for proof. It was filmed at a school that lost a student to suicide after a sexting incident.

"So you get passionate about that," he said. He's hoping young people will too.

West and Schuette will bring their program to schools in Southfield on Wednesday.

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