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Local Lawmakers Tell Teens: 'It Gets Better'

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Martha Soukup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/soukup/5159381565/

As bullying continues to make headlines across the country, some federal lawmakers in our region are highlighting the problem with a new video.

"Whether it's in the halls of our schools, or on the Internet, or in our military, bullying is not a rite of passage," say Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) in the video. In another segment, Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) connect the issue to America's history of equal rights. "Our founding fathers were not perfect, but their belief that all men are created equal could not be truer," the lawmakers say. "All men and women are equal under the laws of our country today."

It’s a part of a project called "It Gets Better," which was created after some gay and lesbian teens committed suicide last year after being bullied. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) says the region's lawmakers are focusing on the issue because it's so prevalent and harmful. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and First Lady Katie O'Malley also took a stand against bullying earlier this year with a video that coincided with the beginning of the school year.

"We feel that this is one of the great hazards that's going on in schools, playgrounds, athletics, and so on," says Mikulski. "We need to have prevention, we need to have interdiction, and a strong deterrent in where our children are."

In particular, "we have to make sure that our children, particularly our children who are unusual -- special needs children -- are not subject to ridicule, humiliation or physical abuse," she adds. Mikulski suggests Congress and local school officials need to focus more on training teachers to identify and confront bullies.

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