This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 16, 2011 - U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay says there is a role for Congress and the federal government in the national effort to combat the bullying of children in school, in public and online.
Members of Congress can "give school districts and states the best practices to combat bullying,'' the congressman said, during a tele-town hall Thursday night that featurednational, state and local school officials and experts.
Clay, D-St. Louis, added that many members of Congress, including himself, are parents, too -- and confront some of the same issues about bullying.
The topic drew a record 15,700 listeners, a Clay spokesman said, underscoring the public concern about bullying.
The panelists who joined Clay in the one-hour discussion were:
- -- Chris Nicastro, commissioner of the Missouri Department of Secondary & Elementary Education
- -- Marsali Hancock, president of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition
- -- Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Service
- -- Stacy Lyles, guidance specialist with the Hazelwood School District
- --Sydney Everett, chairman of the 1st Congressional District Youth Cabinet
All shared Clay's concerns about how to confront and deal with bullies. Children, said Clay, deserve to be "safe at home, safe at school and safe online."
Lyles said she believes that "bullying is underreported and somewhat underrated'' as an issue facing children and teens.
One of the ways to deal with the problem, she said, is for educators to make clear to students that reporting bullies is "not snitching."
One student who participated in the question/answer session asserted that bullying "is more serious than statistics are showing."
Thursday's tele-town hall was the latest in a series that Clay has conducted over the last couple years. A spokesman said his earlier tele-town halls have focused on the federal health-care changes, the federal stimulus aid, the war in Afghanistan, the housing foreclosure crisis and disaster relief.