White House conference tackles bullying
March 10th, 2011
05:16 AM ET

White House conference tackles bullying

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama and first lady Michele Obama will host the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention Thursday.

"For a long time bullying was treated as an unavoidable part of growing up but more and more we're seeing how harmful it can be for our kids, especially when it follows them from their school to their phone to their computer screen," the president said in a video promoting the event.

An anti-bullying PSA released online in January declares that more than six-million schoolchildren experienced bullying in the past six months.  As parents of two teenage girls, the issue resonates with the president and first lady.

"I spend a lot of time talking to them about putting themselves in other people's shoes and seeing through other people's eyes," Obama said at a town hall, hosted by BET and MTV, in October 2010. "And if somebody is different from you, that's not something you criticize, that's something that you appreciate."

His comments came just weeks after a string of highly publicized suicide cases where boys as young as 13 killed themselves as a result of alleged bullying and harassment at school and over the Internet.

The suicides last fall had one thing in common, homosexuality, which catalyzed thousands of people to tape video messages - including President Obama, celebrities, politicians - for the "It Gets Better Project" to inspire and encourage LGBT youth who are struggling.

"I don't know what it's like to be picked on for being gay, but I do know what it's like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don't belong," Obama said in his video message released in October 2010 that became the second most viewed clip on the White House YouTube channel that year.

The conference, put on in coordination with the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, will include discussions about the effects of bullying on young people, preventing bullying and harassment in schools and the community, and cyber-bullying.

President Obama and the first lady will meet with students and parents from the Conference on Bullying Prevention in the Oval Office on Thursday, prior to delivering remarks in the East Room.

At midday, there will be a Facebook video chat about internet safety.

Kalpen Modi, associate director for the White House Office of Public Engagement, will moderate the discussion with Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, MTV Vice President of Public Affairs Jason Rzepka and author Rosalind Wiseman, who writes about teens, parenting and bullying.

There will also be an iVillage video chat with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  Sebelius, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes will conclude the conference with closing remarks.

The Department of Education hosted the first-ever National Bullying Summit in August 2010, and the Obama administration has consolidated facts and resources about bullying at the website:  StopBullying.gov.

In the administration's 2012 fiscal budget, Obama has designated $132 million to combat violence and the bullying of children, providing grants to state and local governments under the Education department's "Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students" program.

Anti-bullying legislation, called the Safe Schools Improvement Act, was introduced this week by Democratic Sen. Bob Casey from Pennsylvania and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk from Illinois.

The bipartisan legislation would require schools and districts receiving designated federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment. The act would ensure that schools and districts implement effective prevention programs, and would require states to report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Gary

    Now I understand how the President learned to put his blinders on.

    March 10, 2011 at 5:50 am |
  2. Joe

    Missy Jenkins at missyjenkins.com knows all about what bullying can do. She's paralyzed for life, in part because the boy who shot her int he Paducah school shooting was relentlessly bullied for years by other kids. Her book is helping to stop the bullying.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  3. superlogi

    Good god, we have 50 states plus DC, all of which have the jurisdiction to pass legislation against bullying and the fool is wasting time, money and effort on something better discussed in local governments and school districts. We have a government on the verge of bankruptcy, wars in North Africa and the Middle East where people are dying like flies including our own military service people and 15 million unemployed, and Barry is discussing bullying? For sure, this fellow just isn't ready for prime time.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • liz ashmore

      i completly agree with superlogi. we as a people should try our best not to bully but it happens all the time. always has and most likely will continue on to. i do not agree with bully at all and i try not to be a bully but it will happen as i have already said. BUT Obama why spend our hard earned money on a hyperthetical problem when there are life and death problems that need to be funded. WE ARE BANKRUPT Obama STOP spending our money! we earned it we need to consult on a resonable way and place and problem to spend it on.

      March 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • f

      He's ready to be a community organizer against Bullying. Oh, tht's right! He was a community organizer. That was the only real job he ever had before PROTUS. Incredible! Who voted for this idiot?

      March 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • sheba57

      how disrespectful you are...to call our president a fool...you are the fool

      March 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Charlie Hansen

      It is odd the President took time out for this with all the stuff he should be responding to, but then again, he's that kind of Pres.

      March 13, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Reason

      superlogi, Just to clarify why the discussion is imperative this issue is. I noticed 3rdward's (a private Brooklyn school) online shop and saw this "American Ninja" a weapon that in their own words "This also makes a great gift for a teacher!". This shows clear irresponsibility by this schools administration. Schools have a responsibility not to support weaponry and violence in America especially in the last decade. This clearly demonstrates how out of touch with reality they are.


      "American Ninja – A cross-cultural weapon that also makes a great paperweight. This witty object could be a burgalars worst nightmare—Pretend you’re offering him a beer, and then just wack him in the face. This also makes a great gift for a teacher! "

      September 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  4. Dasia

    This Is The Truth...

    March 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  5. Social Networking for Parents

    This is such a timely post and I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes as parents we abdicate too much of our responsibility to others and it’s important to remember that even with a web monitoring service and good kids, parents need to understand the basics of social media if they really want to help their kids. Cyber bullying and other online dangers are just as real as a physical danger, but in the world of social media, many parents aren’t knowledgeable enough to be able to understand, let alone help, should a negative situation arise. Parents owe it to themselves and their kids to be social media savvy. IntelliCorp InTouch offers a free online video series, Social Media for Parents In Plain English (http://www.intellicorpintouch.com/social-networking-for-parents.aspx). It’s worth the time and effort to gain a basic understanding of social media so you can “walk the talk” if and when it becomes necessary.

    Jason Koeppe
    IntelliCorp InTouch

    March 10, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  6. Liz Carter in Georgia

    We have children commiting suicide and being killed as a result of bullying in AMERICA everyday. Why shouldn't the PRESIDENT address it? He is damned if he addresses it, and damned if he doesn't. My GOD! I pray that GOD, HIMSELF, will soon begin the shutdown of the all devious, trouble-making, controversial, divisive, envious, sabotaging, undermining, back-stabbing foul mouths of AMERICANS! Until that time, I see right now, that no matter what the PRESIDENT does, nothing will be satisfactory for some! EVER!

    March 10, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Shutdown? Sounds like you are praying for Old Testament vengeance.
      By the way did you see the CNN story about Barry reading from a teleprompter to comfort a grieving mother? That is one cold man.


      March 11, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  7. Patty

    Liz, U R so right on. The people R bigots and have a hard on for our Pres. Please folks let him do his job!!
    Good Night and Good Luck!!

    March 11, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • f

      Patty, It is NOT THE PROUTS's job tio address a school yrad bully. How about adrressignt he LIbyan's who are dying for a little help to overthrow Quadaffi. Oh, never mind. PROTUS is too late already. Quadaffi is back. ZERO leadership. USA is a laughingstock before the world again. Donald Trump is right.

      March 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  8. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Well, you may have a point, Jay. BTW, Did you know that The Old Testament, which is and contains THE LAW, was not spontaneously 'trashed' by the New Testament? READ YOUR BIBLE! JESUS CHRIST said HIMSELF, HE did not come to CHANGE the LAW, but that the LAW, through HIM, might be fulfilled/completed. That means 'carried out'. So be cautious with your sarcasm! I don't see him as being cold, I see him as being strong, yet 'battle fatigued' from trying to absorb hate running rampant! I feel sorry for OBAMA!

    March 11, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  9. f

    So-called 'Bullying" is the biggest crock of cow dung ever to be put forth by the Liberal baby whiners. When I was a kid, it was called learning to stick up for yourself, building character, learning that not everyone is nice, learning to handle adversity, learning when to handle a situation by your self &/or with your freinds help (& maybe kick the crap out of the bully after school), when to start a fight and how to end one, and when to go to the teacher/principals office for help. I am 48 y/o and was bullied all through school because I was the littlest kid in my grade. I learned all the points I made above and ended up with lots of friends who always stuck up for me. Even eventually, the bullying stopped and some of the bullies became my friends too. Pick your sorry whiny selves off the flor by your bootstraps and stop this crap about "Bullying". Life is still the same in elelmentary and high scools, just different clothes and music. Mr. President you have real work to do.

    March 11, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Uhhh....winner!

      Winner winner chicken dinner! I'm 28 and it was the same with me. I was the weird chubby kid that was bullied all through school until I joined the wrestling team. I lost a bunch of weight, put on a lot of muscle, and ended up with a generally positive high school experience.

      March 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  10. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @f; I voted for OBAMA and I plan to vote for him again, if he decides to run again! It IS his job and right to address any and every AMERICAN issue if he chooses to! His main job is to protect AMERICANS, inside and outside of these borders. Our children are also AMERICANS; they're dying by their own hands because of 'bullying depression' and gangs in the street! This is a great big AMERICAN issue! ONLY JOB, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER? FYI, he was a professor of law at COLUMBIA U, and I believe HARVARD! HATER!

    March 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  11. ObamaSux1

    It is so funny that yesterday CNN had the same article with over 700 comments that is now gone and they just reposted the same article and starting from scratch. I read a lot of the comments from yesterdays and they were mostly in non-support of BozoBoy so they just got rid of it, how convenient, but that is what you do when you report the news one sided. CNN Your Biased News Reporting Station.

    March 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  12. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @f; you must have been a bully yourself! You must have had NAPOLEONIC SYNDROME! All children are not that blessed; and going to the principlals' office is out, oftentimes! When you were in school it may have been ok, but 'SNITCHING' is also a No-No, these days! BEATDOWN! No other president has been 'bullied' like this PRESIDENT; but there's going to come a time when you ALL will get enough of 'bullying' BARACK OBAMA, THE PRESIDENT of THE UNITED STATES! You will be accountable for your aggregious rebukings!.

    March 11, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • ObamaSux1

      Read your last 4 comments it's either time to decide that you've had enough to drink today or if that isn't the case maybe you missed one of your medication times.

      March 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  13. ObamaSux1

    At 11:28 I write a fact, not posted, 11:34 Liz Carter in Georgia goes on a rant with borderline threats and it is posted, I write a reply to her rant, again not posted, CNN fair and Honest, yeah right.

    March 12, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  14. Obamasux1

    This is to the moderator – Supposedly CNN has a slogan of fair and honest reporting and you work for them, so my question is why when I send a comment that is fact based it does not get posted but, when a (LIiz Carter in Georgia )< post an obvious rant with borderline threats it gets posted. Please e-mail me and let ne know so I should know if I should waste my time with this so – called fair and honest reporting website. I think I already know what the answer will be you see left wing liberal democrats are very predictable, and always, always, always, use the "You're a racist" statement when someone disagrees with them. Look forward to hearing from you, yeah right, cowards don't face honesty.

    March 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  15. Rick McDaniel

    The WH is a bully. The WH bullied all of America, with the ObamaCare bill. The most atrocious, most expensive health care law ever passed, that does nothing but give the health care industry, Carte Blanche, to charge whatever they want to charge.......and they ARE!

    The WH should NOT be talking about bullying, without apologizing for their own bullying!

    March 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm |