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Nation’s educators commit to bully-free schools

NEA’s ‘Bully Free’ campaign joins ‘Bully’ film and launches nationwide PSA campaign


WASHINGTON - April 12, 2012 -

The statistics are startling. One in three American schoolchildren in grades six through 10 are affected by bullying. Eighty-three percent of girls and 79 percent of boys report experiencing harassment. Students who are targets of repeated bullying behavior experience extreme fear and stress, which can be expressed as: fear of going to school, fear of using a public bathroom, fear of the bus ride to and from school, physical symptoms of illness and diminished ability to learn.

“Schools should be safe havens for students — places where students can grow, learn, and realize their full potential, said National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel. “Unfortunately, Lee Hirsch’s, film ‘Bully’ has shown us that much more needs to be done to create safe and protected learning environments for all children. There’s no room for inappropriate behavior in our schools and it’s time we showed bullying the door.”

NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) hosted a pre-release screening to more than 400 educators and education leaders in Washington, D.C. this week to promote “Bully,” which releases nationwide on Friday, April 13.

The National Education Association (NEA) is providing guidance to caring adults in schools and communities nationwide who are willing to stand up and pledge to help bullied students. To help these concerned adults, the NEA has launched the “NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me” campaign, which connects bullied students with a caring adult—one on one. These caring adults agree to listen carefully to the bullied student who comes to them and take action to stop the bullying and NEA provides the adults bullying prevention resources through www.nea.org/bullyfree.

“Bully Free” also provides much-needed bullying prevention training for educators. NEA’s research shows that public school teachers and education support professionals are ready to act, but many of them lack training in the most effective, research-proven measures to take to prevent bullying.

“It is the responsibility of school districts, with support from their states, to provide anti-bullying training,” said Van Roekel. “And it is crucial that the bullying prevention training include not only administrators and classroom teachers, but also school bus drivers, paraeducators, office employees, custodians, and food service workers.”

NEA, the nation’s largest education association, has also launched a nationwide public service announcement (PSA) campaign to raise awareness of bullying in communities across the country.

“We are grateful that Mr. Hirsch and the Weinstein Company chose to partner with the NEA to tackle the issue of bullying because it remains an issue that does not receive the attention it deserves in many schools and communities,” said Van Roekel. “We are calling on our members, community partners and caring adults to help us tackle this critical issue. One caring adult can make all the difference.”

Information on the “Bully Free: It Starts With Me” campaign and additional resources on how to combat bullying can be found at www.nea.org/bullyfree. The film “Bully” opens in theaters nationwide on April 13.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Michelle Hudgins  (202) 822-7823, mhudgins@nea.org