FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 31, 2013
CONTACT: Elliot Imse (OHR) 202.481.3773; [email protected]
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force – chaired by the DC Office of Human Rights – today presented Mayor Gray with a District-wide Model Bullying Prevention Policy aimed at preventing bullying throughout the District. The policy will be used by youth-serving government agencies, educational institutions and grantees as a model for creating their own bullying prevention policies, as required under the Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012.
“Eight months ago we created a diverse Task Force of professionals, advocates and community members to build a bullying-prevention policy on behalf of District youth,” said Mayor Gray during the Task Force’s January meeting. “I asked them to be bold in their recommendations, and creative but pragmatic in their solutions, and today they have delivered a model bullying-prevention policy that fulfills those requests.”
Three aspects of the model policy make it especially unique. The policy (1) is one of the first in the nation to address bullying at a citywide level, acknowledging bullying happens beyond the schools and occurs in libraries, recreation centers, the transit system and other public spaces as well; (2) uses a public health framework to target prevention efforts and interventions effectively; and (3) is evidence-based, using research and best practices that are tailored to fit the realities of the District. Among the recommendations is that all government employees who have contact with youth receive professional development training on bullying prevention, that data collection be undertaken to provide a portrait of the current state of bullying in the District and to guide future interventions, and to identify at-risk youth and employ strategies to prevent them from becoming victims of bullying. The model policy can be viewed at ohr.dc.gov/bullyingprevention/policy.
“We on the Task Force are extremely proud of the model bullying-prevention policy that resulted from dozens of meeting hours, hundreds of phone calls and many informative focus groups with our District youth,” said Gustavo Velasquez, chair of the Task Force and Director of the Office of Human Rights. “We’ve done much to reach this point, but the Task Force will continue its duties over the next year and a half to ensure the policy and law are implemented effectively.”
The Task Force is comprised of 42 representatives from District government agencies, advocacy organizations, direct service providers, administrators from educational institutions, school mental health professionals, teachers, parents and legal guardians, and youth. Over the next year, the Task Force will review the policies created by agencies, educational institutions and grantees to ensure they are compliant with the law. It will also assist the Mayor with evaluating the effectiveness of the bullying-prevention policies that are implemented. A complete list of Task Force members is available at ohr.dc.gov/bullyingprevention/taskforce.
The model policy was authored by the Urban Institute working on behalf of the Task Force. The Office of Human Rights was assisted by AmericaSpeaks in the planning and facilitation of Task Force meetings.
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.