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NEA launches national bullying prevention campaign

Van Roekel: ‘One caring adult can make all the difference to a student’


WASHINGTON - March 03, 2011 -

The days when bullying was seen merely as a rite of passage or thought of as “kids being kids” are long gone. As recent high-profile tragedies make clear, bullying is an issue that must be taken seriously and addressed head on. Recognizing the enormous physical, emotional, and academic toll that bullying can take on students, the National Education Association (NEA) today announced a new initiative, “NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me,” a national campaign to engage adults in stopping bullying whenever or wherever it occurs. 

“Bullying is serious, it can come in many forms, and it always hurts,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “We know that one caring adult can make a world of difference to a bullied child. One caring adult, who takes the time to listen, who steps in when they see or hear bullying, can change a child’s life. Teachers, counselors and school employees are united in tackling this problem. Our students are counting on us.”

Information on NEA’s “Bully Free: It Starts With Me” campaign, as well as resources and training information, can be found at www.nea.org/bullyfree. Adults who pledge to help bullied students will make themselves known as individuals who will listen carefully to the student who comes to them with a concern about bullying. They will also agree to take action to stop the bullying. NEA, for its part, promises to provide those caring adults with the tools and resources they need to provide solace and support for the bullied student, to ask the right questions, and to take the appropriate actions to stop the bullying.

“Before technology such as e-mail, cell phones and social networking sites, students might be able to leave bullies behind when they went home from school each day,” said Van Roekel. “But now, bullies can send messages to their victims through text messages and on computers at any time of the day or night—and it’s critical that responsible and caring adults feel they have the resources they need to address all of the kinds of bullying behaviors that students face.

“We have a team of people who work with students every day, everyone from the classroom teacher and the bus driver to the cafeteria worker and the administrative staff,” said Van Roekel. “We are encouraging them to take ‘NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me’ pledge by publicly announcing that they will take whatever steps necessary to make sure that all of our students are safe and ready and able to learn.”

Van Roekel encourages parents to take notice of their children's behavior, appearance and mood, both for signs of a child being bullied or one who may be engaging in bullying behavior.  “We need to continue to foster the active involvement of teachers, administrators, education support professionals, parents and the larger community in a whole school initiative to eliminate bullying and harassment. It is our shared responsibility to make sure that every child feels safe at school. Working together, we can make our nation’s public schools bully free.”

For more information on “NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me”: www.nea.org/bullyfree
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact: CELESTE BUSSER (202) 262-0589, cfbusser@nea.org