New Government Website Aims to Stop Bullying in America

Deborah Brauser

March 11, 2011

March 11, 2011 — A new US government website has been created to provide information to kids and young adults on bullying, ways to stop the harassment, and where to turn for help; it also gives helpful tips aimed at parents, educators, and others in the community.

The website StopBullying.gov is managed by the US Department of Health and Human Services in partnerships with the US Department of Education and the US Department of Justice. It was showcased at today's Conference on Bullying Prevention at the White House. The conference was streamed live on the White House website.

Stop Bullying Website

"No school can be a great school until it is first a safe school," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during the closing session of the conference.

The new website is aimed at adults as well as children. Under its "Parents" section, it includes information on "bully-proofing my child," what to do if their child is actually the perpetrator, and how to work with the school and community.

"Parents can play a key role in preventing and stopping bullying. But first they have to know if their children bully or are bullied by others. Many parents do not discuss [it] with their children, and many children do not raise the topic with their parents," says the website.

While "Recognize the Warning Signs" and "How Do I Get Help?" are featured prominently in all sections of the site, information is also provided on cyberbullying, state policies and laws, and violence prevention program directories.

"Everyone can help prevent and stop bullying. No matter who you are or who you represent, you can influence lives and maybe even save a life," the website writes.

According to an article published recently by Medscape Medical News, approximately 30% of youth in the United States are targets and/or perpetrators of bullying; a recent survey found that 90% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are harassed at school. Other popular target groups for bullies include children who are obese and those with psychiatric and/or chronic medical conditions.

Increased school dropout rates and higher rates of depression, social anxiety, and academic problems are all associated with bullying. A recent study found that bullying also doubles the risk for teen suicide. If fact, it has been cited as the cause for a spate of recent suicides involving young, allegedly gay males.

"One perennial idea that needs to be challenged...is that being bullied toughens kids up," said Jack Drescher, MD, past chair of the American Psychiatric Association's committee on GLB issues, in the article.

"This often serves as a pretext or rationalization for not exerting adult control over the antisocial behavior of some children. And as we have seen in the reports of recent months, in some cases children do not toughen up but break down," he added.

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