D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is unveiling an anti-bullying action plan.
He described the specifics at the E Street Cinema before a private screening of the critically acclaimed documentary “Bully.”
Mayor Gray says he wanted to unveil his plan during a screening of this film, because he believes it's helping to raise awareness about the problem.
He says his plan is a holistic response with four stages: a multi-stakeholder task force, a research report, a model policy and standards, and a forum on bullying for D.C. agencies.
Before screening the documentary Bully, Gray announced his district-wide anti-bullying action plan would create a 14-member task force—led by the Office of Human Rights.
The plan will include Police Chief Cathy Lanier, Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, the Health Department, Parks and Recreation Department, WMATA, LGBT leaders, as well as others.
“Everybody could play a role in making sure that environments are safe and affirming for students in schools and communities and I think it just shows people are embracing that message,” said Jeffrey Richardson from the D.C. Office on LGBT Affairs
Already, schools like Lafayette Elementary are tackling the issue—with a so-called “Peace Club.” Open three days a week during lunch hour, victims of bullying and others come to the club to feel safe and supported.
“The best way to stop bullying is to change the climate of a school and make school a place where bullying wouldn't be acceptable among the children,” Lafayette Elementary teacher Linda Ryden.
At this age, it seems children are eager to learn about the issue.
The film shows “how if you see someone getting bullied not to just stand there and just watch and just feel sorry for that person you should stand up to that person,” said Lafayette student Yonathan Dawit.
But, among older students, stopping bullying can be more challenging.
“I mean I've seen it here before. They just did it because they could bully that person that's all,” said Anacostia High School student Corey Brookins.
The documentary Bully opens in theaters nationwide Friday.
Despite harsh language and violent behavior in the film, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Henderson says she plans to show it to DCPS students. Perhaps unlike in decades past, she says there's been a shift in how we think and talk about bullying—mainly because of social networking.
“All of the cyber aspects to that can accompany and amplify bullying make it a whole different ballgame than what you or I might have dealt with growing up,” Henderson said.
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown announced plans to advance major anti-bullying legislation in coming weeks that's long been stalled in the d-c council.
If approved, the Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 would require bullying prevention efforts in the city's schools and agencies that work with youth—including recreation centers and libraries.