August 19, 2013
Iowans have started an important conversation about how we can work together to prevent bullying. Everyone agrees that students deserve to feel safe and respected at school, yet bullying is a persistent problem. What practical next steps can we take to shift the culture, and perhaps improve Iowa law?
That’s why we are holding the second Governor’s Bullying Prevention Summit on Nov. 4 in Des Moines. You can help us answer those questions and develop stronger strategies to stop bullying, including the sometimes devastating drama that occurs on social networking sites. Recognizing our responsibility to look out for each other - that bullying is not just someone else’s problem - is crucial.
Fifty-seven percent of Iowa sixth-, eighth- and 11th-graders reported being bullied at school in some way in the past 30 days, according to the 2012 Iowa Youth Survey, compared to 50 percent in 2010. We hope that reflects growing awareness that bullying should not be brushed off, rather than more incidents. Although effective policies are essential, punishment alone will not fix what’s wrong.
At the summit we’ll hear from Iowans and national experts, including young people, about how students and adults can make a difference. Emily Bazelon, keynote speaker and author of “Sticks and Stones,” will talk about defeating the culture of bullying. Deborah Temkin, with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, will share her expertise on how to best equip schools to address bullying.
It is encouraging that many Iowa schools - and their communities - have launched anti-bullying campaigns. Let’s continue to build momentum for change. This is a challenge we can meet.
Gov. Terry E. Branstad
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds