Free of Fear, Violence, and Bullying
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and staff from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently released an “It Gets Better” video to address the importance of fostering safe spaces for learning across the country. Part of the Department’s initiative is ensuring that students are protected from the harmful effects of bullying within their communities.
One of the tools available to help is StopBullying.gov. The site offers a variety of resources for students, teachers, and parents to help with conflict resolution, provide support to those affected by bullying, and promote general acceptance within their local communities for the upcoming school year and beyond. Here are few tips from the site that you might find helpful:
- Assessing Bullying and Aiding in Conflict Resolution: It is important to confront bullying at its source and address conflicts between students as responsibly as possible. StopBullying.gov is a fantastic resource for understanding how parents, educators, teens and kids can all play a role in understanding bullying, stopping it at its source and keeping it from escalating further.
- Providing Support: It is critical to provide a strong support structure and network of allies for victims of bullying within local communities. Responding to bullying appropriately is critical for the well-being of all students involved.
- Stop bullying on the spot by intervening and supporting those being bullied immediately if possible.
- Find out what happened. Determining what actually occurred can help you best support victims of bullying.
- Support the kids involved, whether this means simply communicating to victims of bullying that it is not their fault, or helping them gain access to counseling or mental health services to cope with the effects of bullying.
- Be more than a bystander by being an ally to victims of bullying by reporting abuse, helping to resolve a situation, or by simply being a good friend.
- Promoting and Guaranteeing Acceptance in Your Community: While bullying in your community may be a local issue, there are many state and federal laws that protect victims of bullying.
- There are a variety of laws that protect victims of bullying across the country against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion. It is important for students and parents to know their rights and seek out the appropriate support if they feel that their or their child’s civil rights have been violated.
- Students who identify as LGBT or youth with special needs are more likely to be targets of bullying and have a greater chance of feeling subjugated as an effect. It is important to support the individual needs of these students and there are resources available to help fight for the rights of these groups specifically.
- Creating student-led organizations such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) or Diversity organizations, something that Secretary Duncan underscored on National GSA Day, can help provide critical support for students who feel like they have nowhere else to go. The Equal Access Act of 1984 and many state and local laws guarantee the right to create these types of groups in schools if student need is demonstrated.
We hope that these resources can aid in stopping bullying at its source and give victims strategies to combat bullying, help individuals stand up to injustice in their communities, and ultimately improve the welfare of students.
Secretary Duncan recently noted that “all of us here at the Department of Education are committed to making sure that young people today can grow up free of fear, violence, and bullying and do everything we can to protect them.”
Adam Sperry is a student at New York University and a current intern in the Office of Communication & Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.