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Voice of Students Was Heard at the Minnesota State Capitol Students Demanding Change Rally Draws Media Attention

The voice of Minnesota students was heard Feb. 11, 2012 at the State Capitol in St. Paul as more than 100 teens wearing orange rallied to support stronger bullying prevention legislation. Organized by Students Demanding Change, with the support of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, the rally generated substantial media coverage. There were multiple television news reports on the Minneapolis-St. Paul affiliates of ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as stories on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and in the Minneapolis “Star-Tribune” newspaper.

Students Demanding Change believes that student perspective is vital if the State Legislature is going to successfully write a new law to prevent bullying, both in schools and in social media. The current state law is just 37 words long and is one of the weakest in America.

Actor Colin Ford, one of the stars of the film “We Bought a Zoo,” appeared at the rally via Skype, offering his support for the students’ bullying prevention efforts. State Representative Jim Davnie (DFL- Minneapolis) addressed the crowd in the Capitol rotunda. Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, and her son David shared their personal story. And organizer Audrey Berdahl-Baldwin led the participants in a raucous chant to close the rally.

In an interview with MPR, organizer Sydney Eberwein said students would feel better if they knew state law required teachers and school administrators to take action when bullying occurs. “That provides a little more hope for students, which is what we want to accomplish,” said Eberwein, one of four Mounds Park Academy students who led the rally. “We want to provide students with hope that it will get better.”

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