By Kathleen Sebelius
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 21, 2013) — October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month – when individuals, families, schools, and communities across the nation help to raise awareness about bullying prevention.
Bullying remains a widespread problem with nearly 30 percent of adolescents in the U.S. reporting some experience with bullying, whether as the victim, the bully or both. An infographic developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) highlights important facts and information about bullying prevention. We know that there are a number of emotional effects that can result from bullying such as depression and anxiety. There are also physical effects as well, like headaches and stomachaches, and sleep problems.
In a special supplement of the Journal of Adolescent Health supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), we see how researchers continue to investigate the complex relationship between bullying and suicide. But help is available. I am very pleased to highlight a number of exciting activities and initiatives that HHS will be launching during Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.
• Media Guidelines for Bullying Prevention. Media coverage of social issues can have a widespread impact on how communities understand and address problems. SAMHSA has developed media guidelines conveniently located in the newsroom of stopbullying.gov . This guidance offers help to journalists, bloggers, and others to engage in responsible reporting on this important topic.
• Conversation Starters Mobile App. Later this month, SAMHSA will release a mobile app for parents to help start conversations with their children about bullying. This app will be available for both Android and Apple platforms.
• Bullying Prevention Training Center. This revamped section of stopbullying.gov provides a one-stop-shop for training materials for educators and community leaders. These new materials, developed by HRSA, will be available in late October in our training section on stopbullying.gov.
Successful bullying prevention can’t happen alone! We work closely with the Departments of Education, Justice, and Agriculture, and others, through the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention; including supporting stopbullying.gov, which continues to be an excellent resource for bullying prevention information.
• We are collaborating with these offices to support youth engagement. Across the country, youth are encouraged to talk about bullying by organizing bullying prevention social and educational events through youth organizations in their communities. Youth can report back on these activities through our Tumblr page.
• The Department of Education has issued guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague letter that provides an overview of school districts’ responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to address bullying of students with disabilities.
With all of these resources available, it’s a great time to consider how you can help raise awareness about bullying and take action to stop it. Find out the latest policies and laws that are in your state. Teens can find inspiration by visiting our Tumblr site. Tell us what you are going to do by engaging on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And follow along with Bullying Prevention Awareness Month Activities at #StopBullying13.