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Bullying – the “hot” topic for this week

October 5, 2010

Can’t go five minutes today without hearing of another news program or celeb that is bringing the topic of bullying to the airwaves.  Not long ago, Ellen deGeneres announced she and Anderson Cooper were swapping “sites” to cover the story — she on his show tonight, he on hers tomorrow. Dr. Phil is doing a show on it later this week.

If things go as typical, it’ll be a lot of talk about how tragic it is, how awful that these young people feel no hope in their situation of being bullied or harassed to the point where they take their own lives. We’ll talk about the different kinds of bullying and talk about the psychology of who gets bullied and who does the bullying.

We’ll talk about policies and the 45 states that have anti-bullying laws on the books.

I can just about write the segments myself.

What they won’t go into is effective ways of stopping it.  I have hope, however, that there may be change glimmering on the horizon. In an article published on today, Education Secretary Arne Duncan was to have said last August at the national Bullying Summit: “…that prevention programs can make a big difference.”

But it’s a long way between saying something and doing something, and so far there’s not much being done to incorporate effective prevention into the school environment. Kevin Jennings, Safe and Drug Free Schools czar, has been strangely quiet on the topic. What part of his $700M annual budget is going to preventative programs? My guess is not much, and certainly not enough.

The overriding reason schools still have for not doing more about bullying is that they “can’t afford it.”  I don’t want that to be the reason for kids to continue to suffer. So, to that end, I’ve made a committment to donate the SocialSmarts program to 1,000 schools who feel it would be of benefit to them but don’t know how to pay for it.

Money should NOT be the reason bullying is the hot topic of the week and if more schools can benefit from the positive effects of our program, well, then that’s reason enough to do it.

Not that I want to keep AC and Ellen from talking to one another, but let’s not make kids’ suicides the topic, huh? I owe it to Cynthia Logan, I owe it to Nancy Peterson Walz, I owe it to Sheila Botelho, Phoebe Prince’s parents, Sirdeaner Walker and all the other parents with whom I’ve come in contact over the past few years who have lost children or suffered pain due to this epidemic.

It’s time we put a stop to it and I’m putting my money where my mouth is!   Who wants to join me?

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