Hello. I’m Chyrl Jones, the Acting Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, or OJJDP.
Today, I want to talk about bullying. Whether bullying is physical or emotional, in-person or online, at school or in the community, it is dangerous and detrimental. Bullying isn’t just a buzzword; it can cause great personal tragedy.
According to stopbullying.gov, research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, despair, depression, and anxiety. The single-most powerful thing we can all do to combat bullying is to acknowledge it, talk about it, and publicize it. We have to say loudly, clearly, and repeatedly to all our children that bullying is not okay.
This October, we mark Bullying Prevention Month. In honor of this annual observation, I’d like to highlight OJJDP’s efforts to help keep young people safe at home and at school.
First, we are proud to support the federal website—stopbullying.gov. This website serves as a hub for federal information on bullying. It is specifically dedicated to providing resources to help professionals and parents prevent and respond to bullying.
Next, I want to highlight our mentoring initiatives and their importance in preventing bullying. In 2020 alone, OJJDP committed nearly $85 million to support mentoring programs and services for youth. We anticipate providing an additional $88 million in mentoring funding in 2021.
This is money well spent. A positive relationship with a caring adult can increase self-esteem, improve academic achievement, and decrease the likelihood of substance use and delinquent acts by youth. Successful mentoring serves as a powerful antidote to bullying.
Our newest effort to address bullying is one we’re all really excited about. On October 27th–28th, OJJDP will host a virtual symposium on youth hate crimes and identity-based bullying. Panels will cover identity-based bullying and how to best address different types, including bullying of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, LGBTQ youth, and racial minorities.
The second day of the symposium will focus specifically on the prevention of youth hate crimes and combating the radicalization of youth by hate groups.
OJJDP is thrilled to have the opportunity to expand the conversation about bullying and how to prevent it through our work and this symposium.
As I said earlier, bullying can cause great personal tragedy, but together, we can stop bullying. When we all stand up, bullies WILL stand down.