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Small town in Michigan scene of cyber-bullying

Police in the small town of Williamston — located about 20 miles east of Lansing — are investigating an alleged incident of cyber-bullying against a 13-year-old middle school student.

The student learned that someone had created a Facebook profile masquerading as the student, reports the Lansing State Journal. The mother of the teenager learned the fake profile identified her son as gay, and went to police. Despite pleas that the profile be removed by Facebook authorities, the profile remained active until after Sept. 6 and the beginning of the school year. It has since been removed, and a judge issued a search warrant on Sept. 8 for Facebook back up information.

Officials say they will seek felony charges against whoever was responsible for the false profile.

“This is an act of cyber bullying, which will not be tolerated at the Williamston Community Schools,” [Williamston Police Officer Nick] Stonebrook said in the report.

Michigan is one of four states that does not have a comprehensive anti-bullying law, creating a mish-mash of policies and a variety of responses to bullying by authorities. Bullying has been linked to the suicides of several Michigan teens, as well as dozens of teen suicides across the country.

The suicides last autumn led Dan Savage to create the “It Gets Better” project. That project features celebrities and everyday people telling young people that life gets better and to hold on. Many politicians have created videos for the project, but when Ari Adler, spokesperson for Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, was asked if Bolger would make such a video, he responded:

“There are no plans for the Speaker to make one of these videos,” Adler wrote. “The Speaker is concerned and supports initiatives that treat bullying as a serious issue for everyone. He does not, however, support legislation that seeks to address only special circumstances.”

Multiple inquiries to Geralyn Lasher, communications director for Gov. Rick Snyder, went without response.

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