Bullying in schools can have long-term impact

The much publicized suicides of Phoebe Prince, Alexis Pilkington and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover were all linked by a common, tragic thread - the isolation, devastation and mental anguish that result from bullying perpetrated in our schools and online.

According to a report from the United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, in more than two-thirds of the 37 school shootings that occurred between 1974 and 1999, the shooters felt “persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others prior to the incident.” Research by the National Crime Prevention Council revealed that more than 4 in 10 teens had been cyber-bullied.

On Thursday, May 12 (2168 RHOB, 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.) I will be hosting a Capitol Hill Anti-Bullying Briefing to explore some critical issues of the safety and well-being of our children. We’ll hear some real life stories from victims who will share their unique circumstances and challenges in responding and coping with bullying on a daily basis. We’ll look at how some social networking, interactive gaming systems and sites and Internet chat rooms are being utilized as venues for harassing and taunting victims. And we’ll hear from some distinguished guest panelists about public and private initiatives aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of our children.
 
There are some healthy signs that we, as a nation, have begun to recognize this danger to our children and have begun to respond. The White House Conference on Bullying helped spark public and private initiatives on the national, state and local level. But there is still a need for more urgent and comprehensive action.

Accordingly, on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, I introduced H.R. 975 the Anti-Bullying and Harassment Act of 2011 to amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to include bullying and harassment prevention programs. States would be required to submit data on the incidence and prevalence of reported incidents of bullying and harassment and provide an assurance of assistance to districts and schools in their effort to prevent and respond to incidents of bullying and harassment.
 
There is no single magic fix to counteract the insidious poison of bullying in youth culture but we have a responsibility to continue our efforts. Please join me and special guest McGruff (the Crime Dog) in welcoming our distinguished guest panelists on Thursday, May 12 at 8:30 a.m., and to participate in this critical discussion.