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Bullying ‘Not Something We Have To Accept,’ Obama Says

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All Americans share a responsibility to prevent bullying, President Barack Obama said Thursday, as stakeholders met at the White House to tackle an issue that disproportionately affects those with disabilities.

“Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people and it’s not something we have to accept,” Obama said, acknowledging that he was taunted himself as a child.

The president said the gathering of about 150 students, parents, teachers, advocates and policymakers was intended to, “dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.”

The White House cited figures suggesting that almost one in three schoolchildren are bullied each year.

“It’s also more likely to affect kids that are seen as different, whether it’s because of the color of their skin, the clothes they wear, the disability they may have or sexual orientation,” Obama said.

To that end, a handful of disability advocates and at least one high school student with a disability were in attendance at the invitation-only event, which featured a series of breakout sessions on topics ranging from cyberbullying to school policies.

The student, Ian Forster, 16 — who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and paralysis on one side of his body — was dumped out of his wheelchair by another student at his Michigan school in addition to other forms of harassment. The bullying went unaddressed by Forster’s school until a legal team from the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service stepped in on his behalf.

In addition to those who experienced bullying first hand, many students who attended the conference are actively working on initiatives to prevent bullying at their schools.

In conjunction with the conference Thursday, the White House announced new efforts in cooperation with Facebook, MTV and several education organizations to prevent and address bullying.

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Comments (3 Responses)

  1. musiclady says:

    My 15-year old son, Will, has Klinefelter Syndrome, Tourette’s Syndrome, and high-functioning autism. Because of these things, he is incredibly tall, has vocal tics, and has a different type of personality than most kids his age. He comes home at least 2-3 times per week, saying that he is the victim of bullying at his school. I am so glad that President and Mrs. Obama are speaking out on this issue, as I am really concerned about how this is affecting my son’s self-esteem. He is really a great kid, and deserves to have a good education as much as the next person!!! :-)

  2. farmerrzchyk says:

    As much as I think that it was admirable that Mr. Obama spoke about bullying, it just isn’t enough. Schools and parents alike need to step up and be the force behind stopping this epidemic. My 13 year old daughter has High functioning Autism, Mild MR, ADHD and anxiety and she has been bullied pretty much since the 5th grade and schools here in San Diego Unified turn a blind eye so often. EVERY child DESERVES to receive an education free from fear, free from being bullied every day..

  3. abul2010 says:

    Yes, we have to give them opprtunities for contributing their proper talents and knowledge and help them with the main stream society. They are the part of our nation.

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