Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Obama Administration on Bullying

Last week we attended the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. We posted our summary of the day's events and wanted to share some key quotes from top government officials and thought-leaders in this space. (You can view our minute-by-minute conference updates on our Twitter feed at with the hashtag: #stopbullyingnow.)

Major discussion at the Conference focused on linking anti-bullying measures directly to academic performance – that is, school climates that do not tolerate bullying in any form are also the same climates that make academic performance possible. Another major point made by Administration officials was that bullying is not simply an issue for schools to resolve – it is a whole community issue that involves schools, parents, law enforcement, and community members.

Some key takeaways from the day include:
  • "Why is the White House talking about bullying? Because we know it's far too prevalent, and we CAN fix it. The consequences are too great not to – kids won't be successful.  There are stories today about sadness and triumph. Today we celebrate our young leaders who are working to make a difference." Melody Barnes, White House Domestic Policy Council Director
  • "The goal of today's conference is to put a spotlight on this national tragedy. Too many keep their pain a secret, and but it shouldn't be that way." Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS
  • "I wasn't immune to bullying with these big ears and my name. I was not unscathed." President Obama
  • "Our message to bullying victims is: You deserve to be respected and treated fairly." Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS
  • "We need to make heroes out of those people who stand-up to bullying. They need to feel the light on their good work." John Gomperts, Director of AmeriCorps
  • "We need kids to be at the center of this effort to solve [bullying]." John Gomperts, Director of AmeriCorps
  • "You can't turn off cyberbullying by turning off the technology. Kids are connected all the time." Tina Meier, the Megan Meier Foundation
  • "We need to use technology productively to prevent and deter cyberbullying." Mandeep Dhillon, CEO of Togetherville
  • "In our schools, we need reading, writing, 'rithmetic and respect. Enforcement picks up the pieces after bullying, but we need prevention." Tom Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
  • "There is no quick solution, but sustained attention and community-wide involvement will result in one." Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS
  • "No school can be great if it's not safe. You cannot learn if you are in fear." Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
  • "We have to make this issue our own." Melody Barnes, White House Domestic Policy Council Director
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