Second Annual Bullying Prevention Summit
The Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention joined for the second annual Bullying Prevention Summit, on September 21-22, 2011, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education and eight other federal agencies. The event engaged representatives from federal agencies, national organizations, parents, teachers, and students with the goal to discuss and share their progress on anti-bullying efforts across the country.

Further, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Parent Teacher Association, and the National School Boards Association, have all pledged to address bullying in some form. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have both participated in campaigns aimed to engage and train teachers around bullying prevention. Other summit participants and speakers, including representatives from ABC Family, the Ad Council, AOL, Facebook, Formspring, MIT, MTV, Sesame Street, Seventeen Magazine and TimeWarner, have begun campaigns to raise awareness for children, parents, and youth service providers.[1]

The Federal Partners met for the first time last year to help promote anti-bullying efforts and programs while engaging the public. Since that first meeting significant steps have been made in preventing bullying, including outreach efforts by the Department of Education to ensure that schools, districts, and states are fully aware of their responsibility to prevent bullying.

Currently, the Federal Partners are continuing their work to address the challenges surrounding bullying, including analyzing the effectiveness and comprehensiveness of state anti-bullying laws led by the Department of Education. This fall, a report will be released by the department detailing the content of state laws and model policies.

What is Bullying?
Bullying is a widespread and serious problem that can happen anywhere. However, it is not a phase children have to go through, it is not "just messing around,” and it is not something to grow out of.  Bullying can cause serious and lasting harm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has defined bullying as a form of youth violence that can result in physical injury, social and emotional distress, and even death.

Although definitions of bullying vary, most agree that bullying involves:

  • Imbalance of Power: people who bully use their power to control or harm and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves
  • Intent to Cause Harm: actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm
  • Repetition: incidents of bullying happen to the same the person over and over by the same person or group

Types of Bullying:

Bullying can take many forms. Examples include:

  • Verbal: name-calling, teasing
  • Social: spreading rumors, leaving people out on purpose, breaking up friendships 
  • Physical: hitting, punching, shoving
  • Cyberbullying: using the Internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harm others

An act of bullying may fit into more than one of these groups.

Take the Bullying Quiz

How much do you know about bullying?

Additional Efforts in Bullying Prevention
In addition to the Federal Partners efforts, President Obama held the first ever Conference on Bullying Prevention at the White House on March 10, 2011. The President began the conference by stating that “If there’s one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not.”[2]. The conference, which was put on in the coordination of the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, discussed the effects of bullying on young people, preventing bullying and harassment in schools and the community, and cyberbullying.

Taking Action
At the conclusion of the Summit, many participants acknowledged the need to resume collective efforts toward bullying prevention. In his remarks, Duncan reiterated the U.S. Department of Education’s commitment to continue working with federal partners to provide guidance, technical assistance, and frameworks to address bullying. He also called on advocates, students, parents, teachers and administrators to help inform guidance and policy. He stated that “Bullying affects not only the child or children it targets, but the entire community that surrounds them – their parents, their classmates, even the child engaging in the bullying. Keeping our children safe is everyone’s responsibility, and I’m proud to come together with so many national leaders, parents, teachers and students to reaffirm our collective commitment to prevent bullying in every way possible.” He concluded by saying that “None of us can confront this alone,” said Duncan. “When we stand together we can address bullying and fight the hatred, bigotry and fear that divide us. Our children deserve a chance. We must support them.”[1]

There are many resources available to take action on bullying prevention, including:

  • Bullying and Victimization: What Adults Can Do (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
  • COPS Teen Action Toolkit
    This toolkit includes a blueprint for engaging youth in community problem solving around the issue of teen victimization. Teen Action Partnership for Teen Victims is a youth-led civic engagement program designed to improve local policies, outreach, and services to teen victims of crime.
  • Out on a Limb: A Guide to Getting Along
    Designed for second to fourth graders, this interactive guide helps children work through conflict.
  • STRYVE: Striving to Reduce Violence Everywhere (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • To BullyProof or Not to BullyProof: That is the Question (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
  • Youth Violence Prevention (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • FindYouthInfo.gov: Evidence Based Program Directory
  • StopBullyingNow Campaign where you can learn about what works to stop bullying as well as trainings and training materials.
  • StopBulling.gov

LGBT Resources:

  • It Gets Better Project
    President Obama's video is just one of thousands of videos submitted by people across the country to inspire and encourage LGBT youth who are struggling. You can watch more videos at ItGetsBetterProject.com
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
  • Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
  • The Trevor Project
    The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LBGTQ youth by providing resources and a nationwide, 24-hour hotline. If you are considering suicide or need help, call: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).

References:
Federal Partners Celebrate Anti-Bullying Efforts and Pledge to Continue Work at Second Annual Bullying Prevention Summit, 2011, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from:http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/federal-partners-celebrate-anti-bullying-efforts-and-pledge-continue-work-second .

Remarks by the President and First Lady at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, 2011, Office of the Press Secretary. The White House. Retrieved from: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/03/10/remarks-president-and-first-lady-white-house-conference-bullying-prevent .