Educators Commit to Bully-Free Schools

National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) hosted a pre-release screening to more than 400 educators and education leaders in Washington, D.C. to promote “Bully,” which releases nationwide on Friday, April 13. Following the showing, AFT president Randi Weingarten and NEA president Dennis Van Roekel led a panel discussion about solutions to student bullying.

The NEA’s ‘Bully Free’ campaign joins ‘Bully’ film and launches nationwide PSA campaign. The AFT’s campaign, “See a Bully, Stop a Bully: Make a Difference,” is designed to raise awareness and provide resources to educators, students and parents.

The statistics are startling. One in three American schoolchildren in grades six through 10 are affected by bullying. Eighty-three percent of girls and 79 percent of boys report experiencing harassment. Students who are targets of repeated bullying behavior experience extreme fear and stress, which can be expressed as: fear of going to school, fear of using a public bathroom, fear of the bus ride to and from school, physical symptoms of illness and diminished ability to learn.

“Schools should be safe havens for students – places where students can grow, learn, and realize their full potential, said National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel. “Unfortunately, Lee Hirsch’s, film ‘Bully’ has shown us that much more needs to be done to create safe and protected learning environments for all children.  There’s no room for inappropriate behavior in our schools and it’s time we showed bullying the door.”

The National Education Association (NEA) is providing guidance to caring adults in schools and communities nationwide who are willing to stand up and pledge to help bullied students.  To help these concerned adults, the NEA has launched the “NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me” campaign, which connects bullied students with a caring adult—one on one. These caring adults agree to listen carefully to the bullied student who comes to them and take action to stop the bullying and NEA provides the adults bullying prevention resources through

“Bully Free” also provides much-needed bullying prevention training for educators. NEA’s research shows that public school teachers and education support professionals are ready to act, but many of them lack training in the most effective, research-proven measures to take to prevent bullying.

“It is the responsibility of school districts, with support from their states, to provide anti-bullying training,” said Van Roekel. “And it is crucial that the bullying prevention training include not only administrators and classroom teachers, but also school bus drivers, paraeducators, office employees, custodians, and food service workers.”

NEA, the nation’s largest education association, has also launched a nationwide public service announcement (PSA) campaign to raise awareness of bullying in communities across the country.

“We are grateful that Mr. Hirsch and the Weinstein Company chose to partner with the NEA to tackle the issue of bullying because it remains an issue that does not receive the attention it deserves in many schools and communities,” said Van Roekel. “We are calling on our members, community partners and caring adults to help us tackle this critical issue. One caring adult can make all the difference.”

Information on the “Bully Free: It Starts With Me” campaign and additional resources on how to combat bullying can be found at The film “Bully” opens in theaters nationwide on April 13. (NEA)


When it comes to bullying in schools, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel are in a unique position. Because of their presence in and out of the classroom, they are often the first ones to witness bullying among students. "We see bullying on the frontlines," says Betty Stanton, a middle school secretary from Ardmore, Okla. Stanton was one of dozens of PSRPs who came to Washington, D.C., this week to attend the American Association of Classified School Employees' annual legislative conference held at AFT headquarters, March 29-30.

Stanton and her colleagues spent the afternoon lobbying federal lawmakers to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would require schools to have codes of conduct that prohibit bullying and harassment, and to provide training to address these issues.

AACSE members, many of whom are AFT members as well, shared stories about the impact of bullying on their students and schools, in an effort to help lawmakers understand their role in trying to change bullying behavior and, ultimately, to encourage them to sign on as sponsors of the measure.

George Williams, president of the AACSE and president of the AFT-affiliated Madison County (Fla.) Education Association, says the stories PSRPs have to tell about the bullying they see would not have come to the forefront without this kind of legislation. "We have children who are dealing with tremendous pressures every day. But with education about bullying, we can make a difference. We have to make a difference."

Williams and his group met with a staff member from the office of Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) to thank him for introducing the measure. "The states are all over the map when it comes to bullying legislation," Williams says. "To have a federal measure defining bullying and harassment brings uniformity to the process."

In addition to lobbying about legislation to address bullying, the group also encouraged lawmakers to sponsor the Fix America's Schools Today Act, a measure that would provide assistance for the modernization, renovation and repair of public schools. (AFT)


More about the Movie:
Directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, The Bully Project is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of Americas bullying crisis. The Bully Project follows five kids and families over the course of a school year. Stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals offices, the film offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children. As teachers, administrators, kids and parents struggle to find answers, The Bully Project examines the dire consequences of bullying through the testimony of strong and courageous youth. Through the power of their stories, the film aims to be a catalyst for change in the way we deal with bullying as parents, teachers, children and society as a whole.


The Bully Project website:     |  View movie trailers on iTunes




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