Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit
Bullying has become a very serious concern not only among teenagers in educational institutions but, more importantly, among very young grade-schoolers and their respective parents. This has spurred the Office of Safe and Drug-Free schools by the US Department of Education to take action and work together with 8 other Federal agencies to come up with more concrete plans of action to help curb the rising incidence of bullying in all forms.
The Department of Education, together with the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Defense Department, the Department of agriculture, the Department of the Interior, the National Council on Disability, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the Federal Trade Commission have instituted a mechanism whereby the federal government can work with public and private organizations to prevent bullying and equip these organizations with the correct resources and tools necessary to ensure that the schools in the United States remain safe and free from discrimination, bias, and bullying.
Each of these federal partners play a crucial role in increasing the level of understanding of ordinary Americans as well as the different social and political institutions they are affiliated with that bullying not only shatters the lives of victims and their respective families but is also instrumental in the creation of a notion that discrimination, hatred, and violence is acceptable.
For example, the US Department of Agriculture provided workshops on what adults can do to prevent bullying and victimization as well as understanding the need for bully-proofing US institutions. On the other hand, the US Department of Health and Human Services developed the STRYVE Program which stands for Striving to Reduce Violence Everywhere as well as a program on youth violence prevention, spearheaded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Started in 2010, the Department of Education’s initiative to meet other federal agencies and private and public organizations to help create a national strategy that will help address bullying in schools and other social institutions culminated in the first-ever Bullying Prevention Summit.
The Office for Civil Rights of the US Department of Education made an emotional plea to educational institutions from the primary level to the tertiary level of education to respect existing laws that guarantees protection against social, ethnic, sexual, and gender harassment. The “Dear Colleague” letter provided the guidance on bullying including its comprehensive and clear definition, the detailed reporting of cases of bullying, and the conduct of investigation to allegations of bullying. The technical assistance memo also provided the framework on how organizations are expected to respond to allegations of bullying including the determination and implementation of graduated consequences for individuals who engage in bullying. The memo also outlined the close coordination between schools and physical and mental health resources through an effective referral system.
The federal initiative to address bullying on a nationwide scale is now entering its 6th year. And while it is still very early to tell whether the Bullying Prevention Summit is effective or not, the mere fact that multiple federal agencies are working together with people’s organizations is proof enough that bullying simply needs to stop.