The Richmond Register

Local News

March 20, 2013

Madison Middle urges Senate to pass anti-bullying awareness bill

Only a two-day window to get it done


With only two business days remaining before the current legislative session ends, Madison Middle School teachers, students and administrators are urging the state Senate to “take actions against bullying and join us in this fight,” said Asst. Principal Scott Anderson.

House Bill 35, initiated by MMS, is an anti-bullying awareness bill that would designate October as Anti-Bullying Month in Kentucky and make purple and yellow — Madison Middle’s school colors — the colors of the campaign’s official commemoration ribbon.

HB 35 passed in the House 99-0 after MMS students testified in front of the House committee in January, but it has yet to be called to the Senate floor.

The Senate must take action March 25 or 26, “and students have not lost hope,” Anderson said.

“My students have called and emailed our senators and we requested members of our community and others around the state do the same over the next week,” said MMS teacher Brandi Smith.

Earlier this month, students also met with Repr. Rita Smart (D-Richmond) and Sen. Jared Carpenter (R-Berea) and handed out purple and yellow ribbons to visitors and the Governor’s staff in Frankfort.

The school’s chorus and student leadership team also performed songs on the House floor.

“We understand that officially making October anti-bullying month and creating purple and yellow as the official colors will not stop bullying,” Anderson said. “However, such an action would allow everyone to focus our ideas and provide for us a way to garner support, much like the color pink does for breast cancer awareness.”

Rep. Smart visited MMS in January to announce the bill would be considered in Frankfort. Smart had pre-filed the bill last year after she was contacted by Anderson.

She said during the last legislative session, the attempt to “put some legislation into action” stalled in a committee.

HB 336, sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Lousiville), would have required schools to create a code of conduct to ban bullying and harassment based on a student’s learning disabilities, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill failed to clear the House Education Committee last year by two votes. All Republicans voted against the bill, except for the two who passed.

“(HB 35) will create an awareness of the problem of bullying, and I think it’s very important we keep it before legislators and before our state — that’s the purpose of this bill,” Smart said in January. “It’s an ongoing problem that needs to be faced head on.”

Smart said one of her daughters was bullied in middle school more than 20 years ago.

Seventh-grader Bailee Vanover said bullying still exists in her school, “but now that we have done all this, I think people are starting to get the point to stop and that we shouldn’t do that anymore.”

Bailee said she hopes Madison Middle will be a “role-model school” to motivate other schools to take the anti-bullying pledge.

“I think students should not be afraid to come to school. I think they should come to school with no worries at all,” she said. “School should be a safe place for learning and making new friends — not to be afraid.”

Bailee told the House committee in February that one of the biggest steps students can take “is to tell an adult and take a stand against it, like we are doing today.”

Students’ efforts to push anti-bullying awareness to the forefront began last year when Anderson started to research national Anti-Bullying Awareness Month, which is recognized in October.

Anderson concluded that there was not a ribbon color designation for anti-bullying like other supportable causes, he said.

The color purple is associated with domestic violence awareness whereas yellow is associated with suicide, Anderson said. “Bullying can be very violent and many students commit suicide due to being bullied, we thought the two colors naturally went together.”

The students began a week-long campaign to launch the new legislative initiative. At the end of the week, some 400 students and staff spelled out the words “stop bullying” on the front lawn of the school.

A Richmond fire truck lifted Anderson and a Register reporter almost 100 feet in the air to snap photos of the event, which exemplified the students’ on-going effort to combat bullying by standing against it together.

But anti-bullying efforts at MMS didn’t just start in October, it was already a part of the school’s culture.

Students have been involved in letter-writing campaigns, they’ve created posters, signed pledges, worn wrist bands and spent weeks working with teacher Tonya Anderson to make hundreds of purple and yellow ribbons.

Teachers nominate students who show school pride and stand up for others. Around five to six students are rewarded every week with snacks or extra free time “to thank them for standing against bullying,” Anderson said.

Even if HB 35 fails to pass the Senate, educators at Madison Middle will continue to make this legislative process a learning experience for students, he said.

They plan to continue working with Smart and find other schools to join them in the effort.

Anderson said students are talking about establishing a club and they want to work with Eastern Kentucky University students to create television ads and anti-bullying videos.

“Maybe if more of us would join together and say ‘stop bullying,’ people will listen,” Anderson said.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@

or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.

Text Only
Local News
  • 8-2 Quilt Extravaganza 1.jpg Quilting stitches history, friendships together

    Within the first two hours of the 10th annual Quilt Extravaganza at Berea Community School, more than 200 people had already signed the guestbook.

    Colorful displays of quilt collections lined the school’s gymnasium.

    August 1, 2014 6 Photos

  • 8-2 EKU gift.jpg Dizney gift lets EKU begin $15M stadium addition

    Eastern Kentucky University athletics has received its largest-ever single gift.

    President Michael Benson announced Friday that Donald R. and Irene Dizney, of Ocala, Fla., have committed a lead cash gift toward a $15 million multi-purpose facility to replace the grandstands on the east side of Roy Kidd Stadium.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 8-1 St. Mark door.jpg Arabic letter N painted on church door

    Throughout its history the Roman Catholic Church has been associated with Latin language and lettering, so passersby on West Main Street were surprised Thursday to see a strange symbol emblazoned on the church’s door.
    Some were even more surprised to learn it was an Arabic character.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire damages Southern Hills building

    A building in the Southern Hills shopping center at the corner of Commercial Drive and Gibson Bay Drive was damaged by a Thursday afternoon fire.
    Contractors had been working to update the vacant building but were probably not the cause of the fire that began in the bathroom, Richmond Fire Chief Buzzy Campbell said after the fire was extinguished.

    August 1, 2014

  • 8-1 demo derby 1.jpg Demolition derby at the county fair

    The emcee, firefighters and paramedics race to help the driver of an over-turned car in Wednesday night’s Madison County Fair demolition derby. The driver was unhurt and the vehicle was quickly righted.

    August 1, 2014 3 Photos

  • 8-1 fair pageants 3.jpg Royalty crowned at Madison County Fair


    August 1, 2014 3 Photos

  • 8-1 Bees 2.jpg Bee-ing in the know

    Bee lovers were buzzing around Eastern Kentucky University this week for the Eastern Apicultural Society’s 2014 conference.
    Hobbyists, scientists and apiarists traveled from as far as Canada, France and New Zealand, as well as many states, to spend the week exploring numerous aspects of bees.

    July 31, 2014 8 Photos

  • 8-1 Tanya R. Horn.jpg Store employee charged with taking $10,000

    Tanya R. Horn, 33, of Darlene Court, pilfered $10,196 in cash from Posh Tots on Meridian Way over the course of two years, according to a Richmond Police report.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-30 Candids 1.jpg Madison County Fair paid admissions total 10,000 by Tuesday

    Approximately 10,000 people had purchased tickets to the Madison County Fair by Tuesday evening, Billy Tudor, fair board president said Wednesday morning.
    The count does not include Sunday’s Family Fun Day, which offered free admission, Tudor said.

    July 31, 2014 10 Photos

  • 7-31 Pageant Toddler Girl Winners.jpg Babies, toddlers crowned at Madison County Fair


    July 31, 2014 4 Photos