FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JULY 18, 2013
Elliot Imse, Policy & Public Affairs Officer (OHR) 202.285.3348, [email protected]
Meaghan Baron, Director of Communications (RFK Center), 917.426.2823, [email protected]
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) and DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) announced a partnership to assist schools and youth-serving government agencies to develop and implement bullying prevention policies that protect District youth. The partnership, led by established bullying prevention programs at both OHR and the RFK Center, will use a policy assessment tool created by the RFK Center and their partners at the Safe School Certification Program to provide tailored guidance on policy implementation, data collection, and building positive climates for youth. The RFK Center will also work with OHR to review bullying prevention curricula, determine strategic use of data, and ensure schools and youth-serving government agencies meet the requirements of the District’s Youth Bullying Prevention Act.
“We are so pleased to be collaborating with the Office of Human Rights to bring RFK Project SEATBELT to the students of D.C.,” says Dr. Deborah Temkin, Bullying Prevention Manager at the RFK Center. “Our model rejects the idea that bullying is a natural part of childhood, and works to stop the behavior before it happens rather than focusing on punishment after the fact.”
The DC partnership is working with RFK Center’s Project SEATBELT – Safe Environments Achieved Through Bullying Prevention, Engagement, Leadership, and Teaching Respect (projectseatbelt.org) – a bullying prevention initiative that helps create safe environments everywhere where youth live, learn, and play, but recognizes there is no one-size-fits-all solution for bullying. In schools, the initiative draws upon the Safe School Certification Program’s research-based framework of eight key components of safe schools that promote flexibility and innovation. In DC, a policy assessment tool will be developed to identify opportunities for positive impact at individual schools and agencies given their unique environment, resources and capacity. Technical assistance will be provided to schools by the RFK Center team on how to measure the success of in-school bullying prevention programs and curricula, so continual improvements can take place.
“The District has made immense strides in the last year to protect our youth through the work of the Citywide Bullying Prevention Task Force, and this is another significant step toward that goal,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “The partnership between DC government and the RFK Center will prove to be invaluable in providing the tools and data necessary for schools and agencies to implement policies that can most effectively prevent the bullying of the youth they serve.”
Representatives from both RFK Project SEATBELT and OHR’s Citywide Youth Bullying Prevention Program agree the District’s strong bullying prevention law is critical to bullying prevention, but that such efforts can only be fully successful with robust implementation. The partnership between the RFK Center and OHR will be based on the model bullying prevention policy that was created under the District’s bullying prevention law. The model policy is available at ohr.dc.gov/bullyingprevention/policy.
About the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights
The RFK Center was founded in 1968 by Robert Kennedy's family and friends to carry forward his unfinished work. Its core program areas are linked by a common commitment to helping realize Robert Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world: RFK Partners for Human Rights, the RFK Center’s litigation, advocacy, and capacity-building arm, builds multi-year partnerships with human rights activists to advance social justice goals around the world; RFK Speak Truth To Power educates more than half a million students around the world each year with a human rights school curriculum offered from pre-school to law school and a newly launched bullying prevention initiative, RFK Project SEATBELT; and RFK Compass promotes corporate responsibility by ensuring that human rights concerns, fair labor practices, and environmental safeguards are reflected in global investment strategies. The RFK Center’s European partner organization, RFK Europe, provides human rights education programs to schools across the continent, and operates the RFK Europe Training Institute providing cutting edge training for human rights activists and grassroots organizations.
The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights is dedicated to advancing human rights through domestic and international programs that help the disadvantaged and oppressed and that recognize, train, and support our next generation of leaders.
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.