Blog: Menominee Nation urged to create anti-bullying laws
Posted: Friday, April 6, 2012
"For Erin Schweitzer, who lives on the Menominee Reservation 45 miles northwest of Green Bay, Wisconsin, the bullying of her 11-year-old daughter started with names: "bitch," "whore," "fugly." Schweitzer told her daughter's teacher, but things got worse — the bully attacked her on the bus, slamming her head into the window. Schweitzer says the girl got a week of lunchtime detention, but soon started again, this time with cyberbullying. It wasn't until then that Schweitzer learned that Wisconsin's anti-bullying legislation doesn't apply on Menominee-owned land.
The classmate had been using a convenience store's computer to send vulgar Facebook messages to her daughter. It's not clear whether the girl had a computer at home, but given that poverty rates [.pdf] on the Menominee Reservation are exceptionally high, it's possible that she didn't. Schweitzer successfully got the store to place parental controls on its computer, but the girl came to their house, throwing rocks and shouting obscenities. "I've seen the spirit sucked out of my daughter, literally sucked right out of her," Schweitzer says.
She was able to get a restraining order against her daughter's classmate, but found she couldn't file a criminal complaint. Forty-eight states, including Wisconsin, have some sort of anti-bullying laws on the books — New Jersey's law, one of the strictest, allows kids to report bullying directly to the police, and requires that schools inform the state government about bullying incidents. But Wisconsin state law doesn't apply on the Menominee Reservation — and Schweitzer says tribal law hasn't caught up with the times; if she wants her daughter's bully punished, her only option is to file a civil suit."
Get the Story:
Why It's So Hard To Stop Bullying On Indian Reservations
Join the Conversation