Bullying is Not a Rite of Passage

As leaders in Congress working to update and rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—more commonly known as No Child Left Behind—it is crucial to keep in mind, and advocate for, the millions of children and young adults whose lives are damaged every day by vicious acts of bullying and cyber-bullying.

Bullying is not a rite of passage.

Too many of our kids stay home from school every day in fear of bullying. As Congress rewrites this most important federal law, we must include bullying prevention provisions.
Now is the time to take action. I am writing to urge you to support the inclusion of bullying prevention initiatives in ESEA—including expanding federal bullying prevention initiatives and mandating important reporting and accountability measures for schools.

Effective bullying prevention initiatives in ESEA should:

• Require states to adopt inclusive policies against bullying and gather and report information on bullying and harassment

• Bullying prevention policies should be comprehensive and explicitly inclusive of all types of bullying and harassment

• Help schools to develop and implement bullying prevention policies and programs

• Promote best practices to address bullying, harassment and cyberbullying

• Fund anti-bullying and harassment programs

• Fund research into the nature and magnitude of the bullying/cyberbullying problem—and its impact on the social and emotional health of students and on their academic achievement

Bullying is a devastating issue that affects schools, communities, students and families across the nation. Sadly, the rapid growth of online communication networks has also led to a significant number of youth who are abusing and misusing Internet and cell phone technology to bully, harass and even incite violence against others. Bullying has been proven to lead to a series of long-term detrimental outcomes which can include poor academic achievement, low self-esteem and serious depression.

The federal government, in partnership with state and local public agencies, non-profit and community organizations, and colleges and universities, has a critical role to play in ensuring that our schools and communities are safe places for all students.

As you rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act (ESEA), I urge you to keep in mind the millions of lives that are affected every day by the devastating effects of bullying—and act to include effective bullying prevention initiatives in the legislation.

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