President Obama Endorses Anti-bullying Legislation

April 26, 2012

Sometimes, we in the AAUW Public Policy Department are asked by members, “Does the work we do really make a difference?” When I answer with an unequivocal yes, I point to victories like the one we had last week.

For several years, AAUW members and coalition allies have shown tremendous support for the Student Nondiscrimination Act (SNDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), both of which would require educators to address bullying and harassment in schools.

AAUW members reasserted their commitment to lobbying for safer school climates when they passed our 2011–13 legislative agenda to “advocate [for] equitable climates free of harassment and bullying.” In addition, AAUW members sent more than 10,000 e-mails to their elected representatives, and the AAUW Action Fund Lobby Corps has met personally with members of Congress and their staffs on these bills. AAUW’s public policy team directly lobbied Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to include SNDA and SSIA provisions in federal regulations. Just last month, AAUW joined 70 organizations in writing a letter requesting that President Obama publicly support and endorse SNDA.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaks during a panel discussion at the
White House screening of Bully.

On Friday, April 20, the president officially endorsed both bills. This important step does not guarantee passage of the legislation, but it is a very good sign. I believe that the president’s action is another example of how AAUW’s activism — through lobbying, coalition work, research, and advocacy — continues to make a difference here in Washington, D.C.

The president’s announcement came during a White House screening of the documentary film Bully. AAUW was honored to be chosen as one of several groups invited to the event and to meet with several of the children and families highlighted in the film. Now playing in theaters nationwide, you — or better yet, you and your school-age children — can see Bully for yourselves.

As AAUW’s research Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School and other reports have established, sexual harassment and bullying are pervasive, national problems. SNDA and SSIA would require educators to address bullying and harassment in schools. It is wrong for Congress to let these bills languish. Take actioncontact Congress, and urge them to pass these laws.

Remember, we can make a difference by acting to end school bullying.

By:   |   April 26, 2012

1 Comment

  1. P.G. says:

    I had a client who was a young man with disabilities. He worked for a retail location in a janitorial role. He loved his job and everyone he worked with. Unfortunately he was the victim of workplace bullying and was made to work obscene hours tirelessly. He did so with a smile because he truly loved the company.

    Unfortunately this led to him neglecting warning signs about his own health and when he brought them to the attention of his shift supervisors he was told to go back to work.

    Later he ended up passing out on the floor, being hospitalized, and later passing away. All this because bully supervisors took advantage of him.

    We need to recognize not only when this is happening to ourselves, but to those around us who cannot intercede on their own behalf.

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