Schools call for funding to prevent bullying

April 26, 2010 4:13:58 PM PDT
Students, teachers and lawmakers say more money is needed to fight bullying, which has expanded in recent years from the schoolyard to the Internet.

Last week, the Illinois House passed a measure that requires schools to fight bullying. On Monday, Congressman Danny Davis Jr said he wants national legislation to protect students from the harassment that has in some cases turned deadly.

High school seniors Sharnequa Washington and Brandon Brown say despite efforts to stop it, bullying is alive and well at Frederick Douglass Academy.

"Some people take it to heart and they want to fight," Washington said.

"I try to ignore, whoever it was, I really don't care," Brown said.

United States Congressman Danny Davis told students, parents, and educators at the West Side school that help is on the way.

"If individuals, especially young people, learn to be violent, they will be violent," Congressman Davis said.

On Monday, Congressman Davis introduced a bill amending the Safe and Drug Free Schools Communities Act to include bullying and harassment prevention programs. The $410 million federal initiative is up for re-authorization next year.

"It is so important that we bring in legislation that catches up with 21sts Century technology," said Dr. Deborah Crump, principal at Frederick Douglass Academy.

The legislation calls for educational programs. It also defines bullying and harassment, as well as cyber bullying. High school athlete DeAndre Robinson was recently a victim of cyber bullying. He received hurtful and embarrassing text messages after he refused to wrestle at a school match.

"Wherever I went for like 2 months, it was like wow. It did something to me on the inside," said Robinson.

Experts say data shows almost 30-percent of youth in the United States-- or close to 6-million kids--- are involved in bullying either as a perpetrator or a target.

"While bullying has been around forever, recently we've seen several children take their own lives rather than continue to be subjected to bullying," said Meryl Camin Sosa, executive director, Illinois Psychiatric Society.

"I think we're going to go a long way to solving this problem," said Sarah Schriber, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.

several communities including suburban Oak Park have successful programs to combat bullying. The Illinois legislature just passed a bill -- defining "bullying" and harassment. It's expected the governor will sign it into law early next month.


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