On October 26, 2010, the U. S. Department of Education released an excellent letter to schools about the need to take a more comprehensive approach to combating bullying. In general, schools often view bullying as isolated incidents, rather than perceiving underlying patterns of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability. The hostile, unsafe environment created by bullying hurts students physically and psychologically; bullying also interferes with students' learning and achievement.
I commend Russlynn Ali, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education, for sending out this helpful letter. When I was a child, many people thought that kids should just "tough it out" when bullied. From the age of five, I was a target of bullies during elementary school and high school. I was shy and did not know how to respond to verbal insults. The frequent bullying upset me and undermined my self-esteem. I wish that schools were as alert to harassment of students as they are now.
I hope that teachers, principals, professors, coaches, guidance counselors, school social workers and psychologists will read the new guidelines and take strong action to discourage bullies, enhance bullies' sensitivity to others, train all students to respect one another, and heal victims of bullying. I am very pleased that a national conference to address bullying will take place in 2011. All members of our multi-cultural society deserve respect.
Causes Janet Heller Supports
National Trust for Historic Preservation, Nature Conservancy, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Autism Speaks,