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First Citywide Bullying Prevention Program Director Starts at the Office of Human Rights

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

First Citywide Bullying Prevention Program Director Starts at the Office of Human Rights

New program to implement Citywide Youth Bullying Prevention Policy

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The first director of the new Citywide Youth Bullying Prevention Program has started at the Office of Human Rights (OHR), the agency charged with implementing a bullying prevention model policy created last year by a mayoral task force. Suzanne Greenfield, a longtime school and social justice advocate, will assist youth-serving agencies, educational institutions and government grantees with developing bullying prevention policies by the September deadline created under the Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012. Additionally, Ms. Greenfield will coordinate high-level trainings and advise stakeholders as they develop curriculum and data analysis methods to reduce bullying incidents.

“District and school officials, community advocates, parents and youth worked together for nearly eight months to build a roadmap for bullying prevention in the District, and the launch of this program marks our commitment to that roadmap’s implementation,” said Ms. Greenfield. “There is an enormous task ahead of us, but the importance of the mission and the dedication shown so far makes me confident the District will be a model for states across the nation to follow.”

The program avoids an overreliance on discipline and instead adopts a public health approach focused on prevention, supporting at-risk youth and addressing incidents to change behavior, methods Ms. Greenfield has embraced in her previous work. She comes to OHR from Advocates for Justice and Education (AJE), where she worked on education policy issues for youth with special needs. Before AJE at DC Public Schools, she teamed with schools and school leaders to address behavior concerns and create holistic approaches to changing school climates. She also created a national program to support the needs of LGBTQ youth in schools while the Senior Safe Schools Coordinator at Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

“The District is fortunate to have someone with Suzanne’s passion and expertise leading the government’s efforts to create public environments free of bullying,” said OHR Director Gustavo Velasquez. “She was an invaluable member of the Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force that created the model policy, and will be critical to ensuring its success as it transitions to the policy implementation phase.”

Youth-serving government agencies, educational institutions and grantees must develop and implement bullying prevention policies by September 14, 2013. The Task Force will review policies to ensure requirements of the Youth Bullying Prevention Act are met and practices align with recommendations provided in the District’s model bullying prevention policy. The policy can be downloaded at ohr.dc.gov/bullyingprevention/policy and a list of Task Force members is available at ohr.dc.gov/bullyingprevention/taskforce.

Members of the media interested in speaking with Ms. Greenfield about the new program and position can contact Elliot Imse at (202) 481-3773 or elliot.imse@dc.gov.

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About the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights

The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) was established to eradicate discrimination, increase equal opportunity and protect human rights for persons who live in or visit the District of Columbia. The agency enforces local and federal human rights laws, including the DC Human Rights Act, by providing a legal process to those who believe they have been discriminated against. OHR also proactively enforces human rights in the District through Director’s Inquiries, which allow it to identify and investigate practices and policies that may be discriminatory.