White House Holds Anti-Bullying Conference
President and First Lady Obama posted a video on Facebook this week to discuss issues of bullying in schools. The message addresses the responsibility of students, parents and teachers to discourage bullying and promotes the anti-bullying conference that will take place at the White House on March 10, 2011.
The conference will include experts from around the country with experience in anti-bullying strategies. Students, parents and teachers will also be included in the event. Discussions concentrating on signs of bullying, outcomes of bullying and prevention of bullying will take place. This conference will be made available to be watched live on stopbullying.gov from 10:30am to 3:30pm EST, and at home viewers are encouraged to participate in the conversation.
The conference is part of a continuing campaign to bring light to dangerous bullying, which the Obama Administration has been focusing on since October, 2010. The campaign aims to battle anti-gay bullying and other forms of harassment in schools. President Obama has spoken publicly about bullying issues, and aims to disregard the idea that bullying is just a part of growing up.
The campaign was inspired by an overwhelming amount of reported harassment cases throughout the country, involving bullying based on sexual orientation. Stemming from the Education Departments Office for Civil Rights, the advisory provides guidance about how civil rights law is related to cases of bullying. The goal was to inform schools that bullying can become a violation of civil rights, and how those cases should be addressed.
Assistant education secretary for civil rights, Russlynn H. Ali, drafted the advisory. Examples of gay students withdrawing from school activities due to intimidation are used to highlight the negative outcomes of bullying, among other examples. Ali explains that simply punishing the bully may not eliminate future harassment. The advisory urges schools to go beyond surface level reprimands, and ensure that students will be safe from harassment. Immediate and effective responses to harassment are confirmed to be an obligation of the school.