On August 11 and 12, the US government held the first annual Bully Summit that opened the door for better collaboration between federal agencies--the departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Defense and Interior. Although a number of organizations were involved, the PTA and Mom Congress were not. Drawing on the positive outcomes of the summit, is the announcement of a new Website - www.bullyinginfo.org - that is a central housing system for federal resources on bullying. But there is more work to be done – work that includes a national focus on anti-bully programs.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to focus on the bully prevention initiatives that are working and put an end to bullying. “It is an absolute travesty of our educational system when students fear for their safety at school, worry about being bullied or suffer discrimination and taunts because of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability or a host of other reasons. The fact is that no school can be a great school until it is a safe school first” says Duncan.
A Minnesota based non-profit, PACER, that participated in last month's summit states that October is National Bully Prevention month and that this is the fifth year the group has promoted awareness of bully prevention resources, some they offer for a cost. The Virginia School Board association sets aside January as Bully Prevention month. Jennifer Batchelor DeFranco, IL Mom Congress delegate, says "I had the governor proclaim a week in Oct, which is supposed to be bullying awareness month - but I never got the promotion statewide that I wanted...it NEEDS to be a priority in all schools everywhere.”
Although the focus of these groups and others are a great start, there needs to be an official designation from President Obama setting aside a month with a special week-long focus that encourages every municipality to direct attention and resources to stop bullies in their tracks.
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Liza Weidle is the NC Mom Congress delegate and author of "Truth about Parenting: Navigating the Elementary Years."