Stemming the tide of youth violence and other harmful parts of youth culture has been a priority for the Obama Administration, and for the next two days, the administration’s lens turns toward bullying.
The Education Department is hosting its first bullying summit this week in Washington, and in addition to education officials like Secretary Arne Duncan and Kevin Jennings, the assistant deputy secretary who runs the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, officials from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Agriculture, Justice and Interior will be in attendance.
Here’s some of what Jennings told me about bullying this spring:
(Bullying) can leave lifetime scars. And in the case of some of these young people, it can lead to their decision to end their own lives . There was a time where the dominant attitude around sexual harassment was that boys will be boys. Then we realized we can do something about it," he said. "If we continue to sit by and let stuff happen, sooner or later, we will have another tragedy. (Bullying) is not harmless. The whole idea this is a harmless rite of passage is, to me, the root of this because it helps breed that whole complacency that leads people not to devote the time and energy to doing something about this."
Other bold-faced names attending the summit include Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and Russlynn Ali, assistant education secretary for civil rights. The phalanx of government officials will be joined by school administrators, anti-bullying advocates, students and others, including companies such as Turner Broadcasting, Facebook and Dairy Queen.
Discussions over the day-and-a-half long summit should include discussion about research, programs and policy. I will be attending the summit and bringing you the latest in news here on the District Dossier blog.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.