White House Anti-Bullying Summit

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A Springfield, MA, mother who lost her son to suicide (after he was bullied by other schoolkids who thought he was gay) was a special guest at the White House Anti-Bullying Summit.

President Obama urged kids to seek help from the adults around them. He also spoke out in favor of bullying prevention programs at local schools. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the creation of StopBullying.gov, with resources for children and schools facing this problem. The NYT noted:

In October, the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights sent educators a letter explaining their legal duties to protect students from bullying based on race, ethnicity, disability or sexuality. In December, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who heads the administration’s efforts, sent guidance to state officials on resources and best practices.

Facebook joined the effort by introducing two new bullying-prevention features as part of its social media service: a reporting tool that lets younger users privately inform the adults in their circle of friends if they’ve experienced online bullying, and a new Facebook Safety Center that features content and support from bullying prevention experts.

The National Education Association, one of the nation’s largest teacher’s unions, released a report and new program for teachers, principals, and other support staff at schools to reach out to youngsters who experience bullying. There’s a gap between almost universal opinion that says adults should intervene to stop bullying, but, according to the NEA’s study, “Bully Free, It Starts With Me,” “just half of all school staff has received anti-bullying training. And unfortunately, staff in urban schools, where the rates of bullying were reportedly highest, are the least likely to have been trained.”

Only tangentially mentioned were pieces of anti-bullying legislation pending in the House and Senate; K12 News Network supports all House and Senate bills that would make it mandatory for schools accepting federal money to implement bullying prevention programs among adults and children at the nation’s schools.

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