Though the first-ever federal National Summit on Bullying may be over, the real work continues. The launch of a new Website, www.bullyinginfo.org, allows for an easy, more centralized and accessible “one stop” site for federal resources on bullying, and a reinvigorated Office for Civil Rights means complaints of bullying and harassment will be vigorously investigated. In addition, the collaboration between federal agencies--the departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Defense and Interior--will continue.
“As educators, as state and local officials, and at the federal level, we simply have not taken the problem of bullying seriously enough,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “It is an absolute travesty of our educational system when students fear for their safety at school, worry about being bullied or suffer discrimination and taunts because of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability or a host of other reasons. The fact is that no school can be a great school until it is a safe school first.”
Over the past year, the U.S. Department of Education has stepped up its efforts to address bullying to include a new $27 million Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) grant program, a pilot that will enable states to measure school safety at the building level and to provide federal funds for interventions in those schools with the greatest needs. In addition, the Department’s blueprint for reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act calls for a dramatic increase in funding for its Successful, Safe and Healthy Students grants program, which is an expansion of the Safe and Supportive Schools pilot.
“The bullying summit exceeded our highest expectations as our partners came prepared with brilliant ideas and boundless imagination,” Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy secretary for the Department's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, said. “We will compile those ideas and use them as a framework to map out a national anti-bullying strategy in the coming weeks and months. As the 2010-2011 school year begins, we want to get resources into the hands of educators, families, students and concerned community members so they can help put an end to bullying. The new Website puts all of our resources in one place, so folks so can use them immediately as schools reopen.”