Hurd on the Hill: Bullying Prevention Month
Think back to kindergarten. That’s where we all learned to share, not to take things that aren’t ours and to treat others with respect. Even though these lessons were instilled in us at a young age, these basic social rules are not always followed. In fact, bullying not only remains a part of our communities and schools, but has become more prevalent with the internet creating new platforms for our kids to be bullied outside of the classroom.
The statistics behind the presence of bullying today are staggering. Each year, over 3.2 million students are bullied across the nation, and over 70 percent of young people report that they have seen bullying in their schools. Additionally, roughly 160,000 teens skip school each day because of bullying. These numbers are simply unacceptable. Ensuring an environment of kindness and respect is critical to the health and safety of students and our communities. As we observe Bullying Prevention Month, remember that each of us has a role to play and as a society, we must do better.
That’s why I recently hosted a bullying prevention summit in San Antonio with local leaders and child advocates to raise awareness of bullying and cyber-bullying abuse and to educate the community on prevention resources and best practices. Participants discussed their own personal bullying experiences, how different levels of government are working to prevent or mediate bullying, areas for collaboration and the best ways for folks to engage elected officials. My hope is for this summit to be just the beginning of a long, continued dialogue with South and West Texans so we can work together to prevent and mediate bullying across TX-23 communities.
I’ve also worked with my colleagues in Congress on a few bills to make progress on alleviating this issue in different ways. One bill that I co-sponsored would create an anti-bullying roundtable to study bullying in elementary and secondary schools. The goal is to explore best practices for combatting bullying, educating school officials to recognize bullying, and helping parents to address early warning signs. Another bill that I have co-sponsored, the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act, would prohibit meal shaming on a national level. The third bill, the Never Again Education Act, would promote Holocaust education as a means to understand discrimination and bigotry, the abuse of power and human behavior, and prevention of prejudice and hate.
We are living in a time of deteriorating civility which jeopardizes the competition of ideas and the learning environment for our children. Their health and safety is in jeopardy and our democracy is at stake. And funny enough, to overcome these challenges and actively make strides toward civility, we just need to think back to kindergarten. By simply treating others with kindness, we can move the needle in our communities. We all have a role to play.