by DaShawn Fleming, CNN
(CNN) The Department of Education held its third annual federal Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C. Monday and Tuesday. The goal of the event was to spread awareness ofand brainstorm initiatives to combat bullying, an ongoing issue facing many students. Bullying can result in tragic consequences including violent attacks, depression, and even suicide. Several notables attended the summit including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Senior Adviser to President Obama Valerie Jarrett, actress Marlo Thomas and Lady Gaga’s mom, Cynthia Germanotta.
Secretary Duncan made the keynote closing remarks on Tuesday. He urged the importance of adult involvement in students’ lives, saying “I think that our kids need a lot more time with adults”, and insisting that adults work together to “support individuality and empowerment.”
In recent months, President Obama has endorsed two anti-bullying bills in Congress, the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act—both efforts to protect students and end bullying in schools. Duncansays that the president has often stated that “bullying is not a harmless right of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.”
Although children are the ones who normally face these issues, Duncan has high hopes that a partnership with the Ad Council, a non-profit that distributes public service announcements, will help teach kids to be more than just bystanders. With only one-third of all incidents being reported to adults, the partnership hopes to stress that people of all ages can be part of the solution by speaking up against bullying.
According to stopbullying.gov, bullying can occur both on and off school grounds. A member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America asked how out-of-school service providers can cooperate with schools to prevent bullying and harassment.
“I would love to see more school buildings open from 9:00 in the morning to 9:00 at night, maybe the traditional school running the school from 9:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon, then bring in the Y and the boys and girls clubs to run the school from 3:00 to 9:00 so there is absolute continuity of staff of resources,” Duncan responded.
Duncan also stressed that while data can be collected to understand the extent of the issue, parents, schools and members of the community have to build relationships with children to see results. “I think that we as adults just don't listen enough and I think so many times there are signals, children are crying out for help,” he said.
Stopbullying.gov states that 49 of the 50 U.S.states have anti-bullying legislation in place. But Duncan says that these laws “lack consistency and enforcement mechanisms.” He hopes more awareness will ultimately make bullying come to an end.
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