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D.C. Launches Citywide Effort To End Bullying

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Two Rivers Public Charter School is in the northeast D.C.
Two Rivers Public Charter School is in the northeast D.C.

Last year, Mayor Vincent Gray signed a law creating a new anti-bullying task force for the district, with the object crafting a new citywide policy to prevent bullying. This school year is the first in which that policy begins to affect kids in D.C. Metro Connection's Steven Yenzer met the Director of the Citywide Bullying Prevention Program, Suzanne Greenfield, at Two Rivers Public Charter School in NoMa. They talked about defining bullying,

On defining bullying:

"It's much more of an abusive relationship than it is that very long continuum that we all have to deal with of negative behaviors, which start with teasing and can escalate. It's hard sometimes to define if something actually is bullying, but we do want to say, 'No, this is something very specific.'"

On "evidence-based" bullying prevention strategies:

"A lot of research has actually been done on bullying, and they've really learned a lot of things about what works and what doesn't work. For example, we've really found out that zero-tolerance policies don't work. Oftentimes they really don't address the social-emotional needs of either the student that's been bullied, or the student that participates in the bullying."

On bullying related to sexual orientation and gender expression:

The policy is underwritten by the human rights law of the District of Columbia. It enumerates a number of categories of people who potentially would face discrimination, and that includes sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, gender identity. But we don't want to limit it to any particular group, because any kid could get bullied for any reason... We want to careful that it doesn't become about categories of kids and not just kids in general. The truth is that you can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and be a bully, or be bullied, and both issues need to be addressed. But I also want to make sure we understand this is about kids, and making all kids feel safe."


[Music: "Fire in the Middle" by Nightmares on Wax from Carboot Soul]

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