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Obama pledges crackdown on cyber bullying

White House conference focuses on making students feel safe, secure in school

A new federal website aims to stop school bullying.

President Barack Obama paved the way for victims of cyber bullying and their families to speak candidly about how school bullying has affected their lives in profound ways at a conference that focused on how adults and students can combat harassment in school and via technology.

Obama smiled when he said his large ears and funny name once made him a target of school-yard harassment. But he was all seriousness when he told the audience at a March 10 White House conference on bullying that torment and intimidation must not be tolerated.

The issue has been getting more attention partly because texting, Facebook, Twitter, and other technologies are being used to carry it out, and because of media coverage of teens who have killed themselves after such taunting and bullying in school.

More on bullying and cyber bullying prevention:

Federal officials aim to prevent bullying

Reducing bullying and cyber bullying

Recognizing the warning signs for teen bullying, suicide

Families of some of those youngsters joined Obama at the White House, including Tina Meier, of suburban St. Louis. Meier’s 13-year-old daughter, Megan, hanged herself in 2006 after falling victim to an internet hoax carried out, in part, by an adult neighbor who posed as a boy. The neighbor, a woman, was later convicted of a federal misdemeanor in a landmark cyber bullying trial.

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Comments:

  1. rstellmaker

    March 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you for this informative article. It is great to see the Federal Government getting involved and focused on the prevention of all kinds of bullying including cyber bullying. Schools across the country work hard to develop plans and policies to help protect our children. The problem of school bullying is ever changing and with today’s technology it gets easier for a child to be bullied and harder for schools to regulate bullying activity. My company has worked hard to develop a tool “Equity²™” that helps schools manage all forms of bullying along with their bullying policies. To view a demo of this system, please visit http://www.rdeducationsolutions.com.
    Ron Stellmaker-CEO
    R&D Education Solutions

  2. rstellmaker

    March 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you for this informative article. It is great to see the Federal Government getting involved and focused on the prevention of all kinds of bullying including cyber bullying. Schools across the country work hard to develop plans and policies to help protect our children. The problem of school bullying is ever changing and with today’s technology it gets easier for a child to be bullied and harder for schools to regulate bullying activity. My company has worked hard to develop a tool “Equity²™” that helps schools manage all forms of bullying along with their bullying policies. To view a demo of this system, please visit http://www.rdeducationsolutions.com.
    Ron Stellmaker-CEO
    R&D Education Solutions

  3. reycarr

    March 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    The President’s candid description of the bullying he experienced can give people hope and encouragement that life achievement and dream fulfillment can still occur despite being bullied.

    But unfortunately, it also places an overemphasis on the actions of bullies and the response of the victims, rather than the larger solution of creating kindness, generosity, character, and respect in our schools for all students.

    What we need is greater emphasis on positive social skills; not just lip service as to the necessity, but curricula with experiential components, including service-based practicums where students can be peer helpers, peer leaders, peer tutors, peer mentors, and other roles to help develop the positive social skills.

  4. reycarr

    March 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    The President’s candid description of the bullying he experienced can give people hope and encouragement that life achievement and dream fulfillment can still occur despite being bullied.

    But unfortunately, it also places an overemphasis on the actions of bullies and the response of the victims, rather than the larger solution of creating kindness, generosity, character, and respect in our schools for all students.

    What we need is greater emphasis on positive social skills; not just lip service as to the necessity, but curricula with experiential components, including service-based practicums where students can be peer helpers, peer leaders, peer tutors, peer mentors, and other roles to help develop the positive social skills.

  5. corinnegregory

    March 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Frankly, I’m worried everytime someone talks about cyberbullying as those it’s some sort of unique “thing.” We have a real problem in this country of continually wanting to apply “bandaids” at every new lesion that pops up, but we don’t do much to look beneath the skin and address the real reason these problems are happening.

    Just in the same way that a calculator is a tool that makes solving mathematical problems faster, so “cyberbullying” is just another vehicle for harassing and hurting people. Yes, you can do it faster, more broadly, and in a wonderfully “anonymous” way…but it’s still bullying and it happens for the same reasons that “non-cyber” bullying happens.

    Until we deal with that — that too many of our kids lack the positive social skills and character development that helps them understand that treating people this way is NOT OK, we will continue to have bullying – and our kids will find new and more damagine ways to carry it out. The President can “pledge” all he wants and it won’t get better.

    For more on this topic, I encourage you to join the discussion at http://socialsmarts.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/cyberbullying-different-solutions-for-a-different-problem/

    – Corinne Gregory
    http://www.corinnegregory.com
    http://www.socialsmarts.com

  6. corinnegregory

    March 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Frankly, I’m worried everytime someone talks about cyberbullying as those it’s some sort of unique “thing.” We have a real problem in this country of continually wanting to apply “bandaids” at every new lesion that pops up, but we don’t do much to look beneath the skin and address the real reason these problems are happening.

    Just in the same way that a calculator is a tool that makes solving mathematical problems faster, so “cyberbullying” is just another vehicle for harassing and hurting people. Yes, you can do it faster, more broadly, and in a wonderfully “anonymous” way…but it’s still bullying and it happens for the same reasons that “non-cyber” bullying happens.

    Until we deal with that — that too many of our kids lack the positive social skills and character development that helps them understand that treating people this way is NOT OK, we will continue to have bullying – and our kids will find new and more damagine ways to carry it out. The President can “pledge” all he wants and it won’t get better.

    For more on this topic, I encourage you to join the discussion at http://socialsmarts.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/cyberbullying-different-solutions-for-a-different-problem/

    – Corinne Gregory
    http://www.corinnegregory.com
    http://www.socialsmarts.com

  7. marjieg@webwisekids.org

    March 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Web Wise Kid’ crime-prevention games teach youth digital citizenship in schools and after school programs. ‘It’s Your Call’ our newest game for tweens and teens effectively addresses cyberbullying. and empowers youth to make wise and respectful choices in their digital lives, and in society.
    10 million youth, throughout the nation, have experienced our programs.
    Thank you President and Mrs. Obama for speaking to the nation about this critical issue. We are so grateful!
    Marjie Garcia
    Volunteer
    Web Wise Kids
    http://www.webwisekids.org
    marjieg@webwisekids.org
    714-435-2885 ext 206

  8. marjieg@webwisekids.org

    March 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Web Wise Kid’ crime-prevention games teach youth digital citizenship in schools and after school programs. ‘It’s Your Call’ our newest game for tweens and teens effectively addresses cyberbullying. and empowers youth to make wise and respectful choices in their digital lives, and in society.
    10 million youth, throughout the nation, have experienced our programs.
    Thank you President and Mrs. Obama for speaking to the nation about this critical issue. We are so grateful!
    Marjie Garcia
    Volunteer
    Web Wise Kids
    http://www.webwisekids.org
    marjieg@webwisekids.org
    714-435-2885 ext 206

  9. rwagoner287

    March 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

    The last quote of the First Lady’s comments about demontrating to our children examples of how to treat others is the key. What is at the bottom of this is the prejudice that still exists in this country. It used be strickly racial prejudice, but not it related to sexual orientation, economic status, etc. Until you deal with the root of the problem no matter how many anti-bullying programs we have we won’t be able to stop the problem. We also need to be helping children feel good about themselves and find their strengths so the bullying won’t effect them so much and the others won’t have a need to bully others.

  10. rwagoner287

    March 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

    The last quote of the First Lady’s comments about demontrating to our children examples of how to treat others is the key. What is at the bottom of this is the prejudice that still exists in this country. It used be strickly racial prejudice, but not it related to sexual orientation, economic status, etc. Until you deal with the root of the problem no matter how many anti-bullying programs we have we won’t be able to stop the problem. We also need to be helping children feel good about themselves and find their strengths so the bullying won’t effect them so much and the others won’t have a need to bully others.

  11. ginarocks

    March 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Still we are treating it as the child being bullied is the one out of balance — the one who needs help, while the bullies just need a little reminder about their manners. Chances are that the school bully has a parent who was a school bully and is currently a workplace bully, but who has just become more socially adept at it.

    How dare we, as adults, think that this is some new phenomenon of the internet age? Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have just replaced the cliques, phone calls, and note-passing of previous generations.

    It has been around for a long time, as this little ditty from 1949 (Rodgers & Hammerstein) points out…
    You’ve got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You’ve got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It’s got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught!

    People know that the socially acceptable thing to do is to feign empathy. Until people change their views on people who are different from them, the problem will remain, no matter how the government tries to suppress it. No amount of assertiveness or self-esteem workshops for the “victims” will help either.

  12. ginarocks

    March 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Still we are treating it as the child being bullied is the one out of balance — the one who needs help, while the bullies just need a little reminder about their manners. Chances are that the school bully has a parent who was a school bully and is currently a workplace bully, but who has just become more socially adept at it.

    How dare we, as adults, think that this is some new phenomenon of the internet age? Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have just replaced the cliques, phone calls, and note-passing of previous generations.

    It has been around for a long time, as this little ditty from 1949 (Rodgers & Hammerstein) points out…
    You’ve got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You’ve got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It’s got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught!

    People know that the socially acceptable thing to do is to feign empathy. Until people change their views on people who are different from them, the problem will remain, no matter how the government tries to suppress it. No amount of assertiveness or self-esteem workshops for the “victims” will help either.

  13. lcallister1

    March 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Corinnegregory makes a good point, above, about being concerned about calling cyberbullying unique – but cyberbullying expert Patricia Agatston does discuss in her book that it is easier to bully when one is behind a computer – not face to face. Dr. Agatston talks about how we need to build a culture of good behaviors with each other, building empathy, and skills to make it unacceptable in our schools. http://bit.ly/agatstonesn

  14. lcallister1

    March 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Corinnegregory makes a good point, above, about being concerned about calling cyberbullying unique – but cyberbullying expert Patricia Agatston does discuss in her book that it is easier to bully when one is behind a computer – not face to face. Dr. Agatston talks about how we need to build a culture of good behaviors with each other, building empathy, and skills to make it unacceptable in our schools. http://bit.ly/agatstonesn

  15. Seonlady47

    March 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Bullying is a very serious issue and I agree with First Lady Michelle Obama that parents or concerned adults must be involved in the lives of their children. Children need guidance in their early years to build their self-esteem and then they need to be taught that it is not okay to hurt someone else because they do not look, dress or talk a certain way. Manners and consideration for another person have gone by the wayside.
    Juanita Richburg Seon, Executive Director
    Curtain Call Unlimited, Inc. – Essential Media Literacy and Media Education Concepts

  16. Seonlady47

    March 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Bullying is a very serious issue and I agree with First Lady Michelle Obama that parents or concerned adults must be involved in the lives of their children. Children need guidance in their early years to build their self-esteem and then they need to be taught that it is not okay to hurt someone else because they do not look, dress or talk a certain way. Manners and consideration for another person have gone by the wayside.
    Juanita Richburg Seon, Executive Director
    Curtain Call Unlimited, Inc. – Essential Media Literacy and Media Education Concepts

  17. wallace

    March 22, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I’ve read all the thoughtful comments posted and I agree on the most part that bullying and any form it comes in should be discouraged. However, the real issue is the breakdown of what bullying is. It is a cry for help. It is, whether big or small, a viable cry for attention. Before I even attempt pointing a finger at anyone, I must mention the fact that it takes a village…you know the rest. We are all guilty of looking the other way and pretending not to notice. Whether that is out of shock or paralysis is not the issue. That just makes my point stronger. We do not know how to react, act upon or better yet, prevent. We cannot from the outside make much of a change. It goes deeper, to the heart or conscience. We all fall into habits, good or bad. We need family to become a stronger force. We need each other to survive.

  18. wallace

    March 22, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I’ve read all the thoughtful comments posted and I agree on the most part that bullying and any form it comes in should be discouraged. However, the real issue is the breakdown of what bullying is. It is a cry for help. It is, whether big or small, a viable cry for attention. Before I even attempt pointing a finger at anyone, I must mention the fact that it takes a village…you know the rest. We are all guilty of looking the other way and pretending not to notice. Whether that is out of shock or paralysis is not the issue. That just makes my point stronger. We do not know how to react, act upon or better yet, prevent. We cannot from the outside make much of a change. It goes deeper, to the heart or conscience. We all fall into habits, good or bad. We need family to become a stronger force. We need each other to survive.

  19. marcofp@yahoo.com

    March 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    The Center for Civic Education’s School Violence Prevention Demonstration Program has a great visual / critical thinking activity that gets students to draw the connection between bullying / bullying prevention and concepts like privacy, justice, authority and responsibility. Go to: http://democracymosaic.net/

  20. marcofp@yahoo.com

    March 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    The Center for Civic Education’s School Violence Prevention Demonstration Program has a great visual / critical thinking activity that gets students to draw the connection between bullying / bullying prevention and concepts like privacy, justice, authority and responsibility. Go to: http://democracymosaic.net/