FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 22, 2012
CONTACT: Doxie McCoy (EOM) 202.727.9691; [email protected]
Elliot Imse (OHR) 202.481.3773; [email protected]
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – With students, teachers and anti-bullying advocates in attendance, Mayor Vincent C. Gray today signed into law groundbreaking legislation that emphasizes a citywide approach to the prevention of bullying in the District of Columbia. The law will require District agencies that serve youth to adopt and implement bullying-prevention policies that protect the health and safety of the District’s young people.
Every day, one in five children is the target of bullying or cyber-bullying in the United States. Bullying incidents can lead to severe long-term social and emotional problems for those who are bullied, and youth are often hesitant to report incidents of bullying to adults.
“Today we are taking another bold and concrete step towards eradicating bullying in the District,” said Mayor Gray. “There is much more work to do, but I can’t think of a more noble or impactful goal than to end the bullying of our youth and continue to create environments where our young people learn and thrive in health and safety.”
The Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 is unique in its focus on citywide bullying prevention, and aims to eliminate bullying in schools, public libraries, parks, recreation centers and other public spaces. It establishes an Anti-Bullying Task Force composed of District agencies and anti-bullying and community advocates and charges it with creating a comprehensive model policy to be used as a framework for agencies adopting anti-bullying policies. The law also protects those who report bullying incidents from retaliation.
“In addition to researching best practices nationwide, the Task Force will investigate aspects of bullying unique to the District to develop comprehensive solutions that are applicable specifically to youth in our city,” said Gustavo Velasquez, Director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights, which is the agency coordinating the work of the Task Force. “The diverse stakeholders on the Task Force provide the varied perspectives necessary to build a District-wide solution to the problem of bullying.”
The District-government-affiliated agencies with representatives serving on the Task Force are the Office of Human Rights, the Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the Mayor’s Office on GLBT Affairs, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Health, D.C. Public Charter School Board, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the D.C. Public Library, Department of Mental Health, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, Office of Disability Rights, University of the District of Columbia, and Child and Family Services Administration.
Non-governmental advocacy and educational organizations represented on the Task Force include: Advocates for Youth; Afterschool Alliance; Break the Cycle; Children’s National Medical Center; D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates; The D.C. Center; D.C. Trans Coalition; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); Fight for Children; Latin American Youth Center; Metro Teen AIDS; Sasha Bruce Youthwork; and Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL).
Task Force representatives were in attendance at the ceremony, as were Councilmembers Michael Brown (I-At Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin and several District youth.
The anti-bullying act is part of a larger effort by Mayor Gray to explore and address youth bullying in the District. Last year, he declared April 21 “Bully-Free D.C. Day” to build public awareness about the effects of bullying on young people.
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