White House Hosts Conference on Bullying Prevention
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama last Thursday hosted the White House's first Conference on Bullying Prevention, which included live chats on Facebook and iVillage. At the conference, the president introduced the Web site stopbullying.gov, which provides information for children, parents, teachers and others in the community seeking help with preventing bullying.
The President said he was a victim of bullying as a child due to his name and his big ears, The Los Angeles Times' Eryn Brown reports. "Obama stressed that kids, parents and schools shouldn't approach bullying as business as usual," Brown writes. "'Because it's 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,' he said."
As CBS News' Christine Delargy notes, this wasn't the first time that Obama had addressed the issue of bullying. "In October 2010, after several young people had taken their own lives after being bullied for being gay, the president recorded a video message as part of the 'It Gets Better' campaign," she writes.
In addition, Education Week's Nirvi Shah reports, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other federal agencies last year created a task force on bullying, and school districts were sent letters informing them that failing to address bullying problems could be a violation of students' civil rights. "Sens. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, and Mark Casey, a Republican from Illinois, also reintroduced a bill that would create the Safe Schools Improvement Act," Shah writes. "The legislation would require schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, implement effective prevention programs to respond to bullying, and require that states report incidents of bullying and harassment to the Education Department."
Facebook also introduced two new anti-bullying features in conjunction with the conference, CNN's Doug Gross reports. "A new reporting tool will let Facebook users, including teens and younger users … privately report troubling content not just to the site itself but to parents, teachers and others in their support system," he writes. "And an improved Safety Center, due out in the next few weeks, will provide educational videos, articles and other content created by bullying experts to help adults address the problem."