Bullying has changed so dramatically — it no longer only takes place in the school yard, so we must change how we deal with the issue. We have to come to together to help parents, teachers and others in our community know what to look for, how to report it safely and who is available to help when it comes to this new type of online harassment. We must send a message that bullying will not be tolerated at any time or in any form.
That is why last Friday I convened a citywide forum to launch an anti-bullying awareness campaign in response to several reports of disturbing incidents nationwide. The meeting, held at the John McCormack Middle School in Dorchester, addressed targeted efforts to spread a message of tolerance and friendship including:
• A letter I have sent to social networking sites calling for a streamlined and intense effort to combat cyber-bullying;
• Increased outreach efforts to raise the awareness level of parents through flyers, letters and workshops framing and clarifying the issue;
• A letter from myself and Superintendent Dr. Carol R. Johnson to parents about the efforts to confront the issue head-on;
• Providing increased training as an added requirement for all employees who work directly with youth to help identify and prevent bullying;
• A new hotline and other “safe places” for young people to vent, express concerns and report bullying – the hotline opened on Tuesday and can be reached at (617) 534-5050;
• Produce and broadcast a public service announcement and other media to raise awareness.
Keeping kids active and out of trouble always helps to prevent bullying from occurring. Active children tend to have a greater self-confidence and better ability to interact socially with others. This week’s school vacation and Red Sox spring training on the horizon — the equipment truck left Fenway Park for Florida on Friday — both serve as a reminder that summer is rapidly approaching and kids will have plenty of time on their hands.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino