Today, the White House and President and First Lady held a conference on bullying prevention. This is a major step in the United States recognizing that bullying is a larger problem than just kids being kids.
Held in the East Room of the White House, 150 anti-bullying activists in the form of students, parents, teachers, and activists were invited to attend a session to help find solutions to the ongoing issues of bullying. Michelle Obama addressed the crowd, taking a personal stand on the issue.
“As parents, this issue really hits home for us. As parents, it breaks our hearts to think that any child feels afraid every day in the classroom, or on the playground, or even online. It breaks our hearts to think about any parent losing a child to bullying, or just wondering whether their kids will be safe when they leave for school in the morning.”
President Obama told of his own experience, showing that even a president of the United States is not immune to the issue of bullying.
“As adults, we all remember what it was like to see kids picked on in the hallways or in the schoolyard,” the President said. “And I have to say, with big ears and the name that I have, I wasn’t immune. I didn’t emerge unscathed. . .Because (bullying is) something that happens a lot, and it’s something that’s always been around, sometimes we’ve turned a blind eye to the problem. We’ve said, ‘Kids will be kids.’ And so sometimes we overlook the real damage that bullying can do, especially when young people face harassment day after day, week after week.”
The White House estimates that about 1/3 of all schoolchildren are bullied each year. In order to help fight bullying, the White House created stopbullying.gov, a new website that they hope will be a place to get advice and support.
President Obama went on to discuss the issue of victim suicide from bullying, pointing out directly two victims, Ty Field and Carl Walker-Hoover. He went on to say:
“We’ve got to make sure our young people know that if they’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help and young adults that can help; that even if they’re having a tough time, they’re going to get through it, and there’s a whole world full of possibility waiting for them”.
It is extremely beneficial to have the support of the top of the U.S. Government as solutions are found to the problem of bullying. Hopefully this is the beginning of a process of top down support for the victims of bullying and active solution studies and bullying prevention. I applaud the President and First Lady for taking the time to address this issue for a day.
The stopbullying.gov website has created materials for download online to help victims of bullying. You can download and receive these materials by going to: http://www.stopbullying.gov/references/index.html