Mayor Vincent C. Gray Announces District’s Anti-Bullying Action Plan | News
From Robert Marus: Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the District’s first city-wide Anti-Bullying Action Plan, led by the D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR). This comprehensive plan brings together D.C. government agencies, non-profit organizations, community partners and educators across the city to find solutions to confront and eradicate bullying across the District.
“When one in every five children is a target of bullying each day, and these events all too often lead to severe social and emotional crises for our youth, we must let our young people know that we hear them,” Mayor Gray said. “We must come together – government, non-profits, advocates, teachers and parents – to eradicate bullying in the District and promote safe and inclusive schools.”
In 2011, Mayor Gray proclaimed April 21 “Bully-Free D.C. Day.” The initiation of the Anti-Bullying Action Plan coincides with the 2nd Annual Bully-Free D.C. Day and represents a significant step forward in ensuring an inclusive and ridicule-free city.
Bullying remains an endemic problem for youth and young adults across the country. While not a new phenomenon, the widespread use of social media has given youth a new platform on which to engage in hurtful – and often dangerous – bullying of their peers.
This issue reaches most children and young adults at some point in their life, whether as a victim, bully, or bystander. Recent statistics show that nearly 32 percent of youth are bullied and over 20 percent of children ages 10-18 are victims of cyberbullying.
Mayor Gray advocates for a multi-sector approach to solve the growing problem of bullying, using a comprehensive, city-wide strategy in line with his “One City” vision. This far-reaching effort, known as the District of Columbia’s Anti-Bullying Action Plan, consists of four stages, including: 1) formation of a multi-stakeholder task force, 2) commissioning of a research report, 3) creation of a Model Policy and Standards, and 4) a forum for D.C. agencies and stakeholders to learn about the District’s new anti-bullying efforts.
“The problem of bullying transcends the schoolyard. It is a fundamental issue of human rights, and requires the entire city to be present to promote solutions,” said Gustavo Velasquez, Director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights. “We need to investigate where bullying occurs in the city and what makes the District different from other cities in incidents of bullying so we can develop and implement solutions to best help our youth.”
The 14 Directors on the Task Force include Chief Cathy L. Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department, Chancellor Kaya Henderson of D.C. Public Schools, Director Jeffrey Richardson of the Mayor’s Office on GLBT Affairs, Director Jesus Aguirre of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, and Director Dr. Mohammad Akhter of the D.C. Department of Health. Other represented agencies will include the D.C. Public Charter School Board, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the D.C. Public Library, the D.C. Department of Mental Health, the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, the D.C. Office of Disability Rights, the University of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Child and Family Services Administration.
A number of local non-profits and advocacy groups, including GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) and D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates (DC AYA) will serve on the Anti-Bullying Task Force, as well as District teachers and parents.