Secretary Duncan on Bullying and ED’s Role in PreK-12 Reform

On October 29, 2010, Secretary Arne Duncan answered questions about the U.S. Department of Education’s efforts to…

  • support innovations and improvements in preK-12 school reform
  • help stop bullying in schools.

Click here for an accessible version of the video.

See all the topics or all videos in the playlist.


  1. Wow! I totally agree with you. Bullying has to be addressed. Has anybody seen the “It Gets Better” project on the web?

  2. This is a response to Nancy’s Comment from November 8, 2010.
    Nancy, I am going through similiar situation with the Billings School Board of Montana. I have been on Klur-8 and also the Billings Gazette. My daughter is 11. I would really like to talk with you and help you and show you support and resources for this matter. There is a lot of things i am doing here in Billings, Montana on this. I have formed ” Montana Family Coalition Against Bullying”. Our Coalition Sponsors are a few Senator’s , City Adiministration, and our Ad Hoc Advisor also works on the Anti-Gang Unit. Please do not give up and keep your daughter close. I have spoken to The Education Committee who tabled our Anti-Bullying Bill. We are showing him facts why a State Law is better than local control. Both need to be used to combat the war on Bullying. We are losing too many of our children and will lose more if this is not stopped. I wish you could get ahold of me, i don’t know how to reach you either. I do not know if i can leave me email on this comment. I would give permission to leave my email to anyone whose child is enduring this. My name is Sheila Botelho and live in Billings, Montana. Please get back with me if you can. Your daughter’s feelings and your feelings do matter. thank you

  3. Bullying has been around since Adam and Eve. There has always been and will always be good and evil. Until we bring pray back into the public schools, so that our children know the difference between the Good-bee and the Bad-bee (Romper Room – 1955 A.D.), the bullying, the bad kids pickin’ on the weak kids, until their parents start disciplining their children, I am terribly frightened that our entire society will do nothing but fall. . . . .It begins at home.

    No-fault divorce should be eliminated. . . . the television set should be strictly controlled; and I could go on and on and on. . . . .we might be able to now zoom to the moon, but we have mass murders happening in our public schools. Seems like we ain’t gone to far in 50 years.

    Very truly yours,

    Mary Paula Grimes

  4. Problems

    -Student body bully’s are mentally in control. / It is a prison of mental fear we are currently nurturing. / Currently, there are no personal consequences for bullying. A piece of paper (harassment contract) is not enough of a deterring consequence,to stop the bullying epidemic. It is currently grown out of control making it unsafe for our kids!

    – Our current policies are nurturing a mentality for future convicts, because there are no personal consequences for what the bullies are doing to our kids.

    – Prisons have more personal consequences for violations than our schools do!

    – How do we change the current student body mentality, that is surrounded by fear for the victims and witnessess? Implement tools

    -How do we change the current destructive student body mentality of the bullies?
    Implement tools.

    – What current practices are causing kids not to speak up, to be silent, or not tell the truth when they are bullied?
    – punishing all the kids after an incident is not the answer. The victim is victimized twice. The victim then does not trust the facility and staff. The victims learn not to trust, that faculty will protect them against the bully’s.
    Teachers and staff need to take the time to get all the information. Students need an avenue where they are ‘SAFE TO TELL’ incorporated into the schools.
    Implement tools

    – IE: What current practices cause kids NOT to speak up and TRUST their
    – The victims are too afraid to speak due to retaliation of peers compounded by little or no support from the faculty. The victims don’t talk, or worse lie, to protect the bullies. It is imperative
    there is a set policy, that protects the interests of the victims. The school must get to the bottom of
    what happens! NOT punish the victims along with the bullies.
    – The current policy is not protecting kids from the constant attacks happening to them. The
    current policy does not protect victims from the current student body mindset. Changing the
    mindset of the student body is IMPERITIVE for Kids to be safe and feel safe at schools.
    Implement tools

    – How many other kids are being bullied in your schools?
    – You could find out by implementing the tools

    – How many parents have been pulling their kids from your schools due to
    – The school NEEDS to make phone calls and get this data from previous

    Red Flags to look for:

    – Kids grades / Prior A students: A’s to F’s – Implement tools
    – Kids not talking when violence occures at school.- Implement tools
    – Marks on kids body and faces. -Implement tools
    – Laughing between classes.- Implement tools
    – Texting in class- Implement tools


    – Research red flags in school records. Examine students who prior to entering your school, were A students. Change in grades from A’s to F’s is a red flag something is wrong. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! These brilliant kids are our nations future!!! How will we compete on a world scale when our brilliant kids potentials are being destroyed by bullies?

    Create an honor code, that is not just on the wall but is implemented into the very hearts and minds of the students.

    – Recite daily at beginning of school day like the pledge of allegence.
    – Have personal consequences for students who violate the code.

    IE; child sent home, to write the code 100 times, and cannot return until
    Recite the honor code everyday before school begins
    Mold the words so they are appropriate for today’s laws.
    Should include specific details surrounding what appropriate actions students should be taking
    Education is a great gift from my Nation
    Because of this great gift, I pledge and promise :
    I will respect all my teachers.
    I will respect my fellow students.
    I will always tell the truth.
    I will never laugh at others who are different or have less than I.
    I will be kind and helpful to others.
    I will not use my phone or electronic device to text about another student in school.
    I will report to my teacher when this honor code is broken.
    – Collect statements from entire classrooms anonymously; do not bring up any victims names. Do this on a regular basis. Allow the students on a regular basis to SAFELY REPORT what they heard, or saw in school. Each child would write a statement on whether, or not, they witnessed bullying that day. The teacher would write on the board requesting names, when, where and what happened. The children would sign it, and pass it into a hat; the teacher would collect the information. That information would be read. It would include names of the bully’s and victims involved, including when, where and what happened. This idea allows kids, who are afraid and intimidated, by the bully’s, to finally speak up. This gives them the avenue to do so. It also allows WITTNESSES TO SPEAK UP. Who knows it may open up a can of worms for other bullying that is happening, bullying, that the school is unaware of. Bullying that the school CAN STOP!!
    – Transferring of students to classes needs to be done in a quiet and orderly fashion. Have students stand at their desks and in an orderly and quiet fashion, turn, and form a line in the back of the class. Quietly the students will proceed into the hall. Set two lines designated in halls for two different directions. Set a teacher at each end to watch for bullying in halls. Quietly students are to proceed to the next class in silence and in line. No one is allowed to go to lockers or bathrooms. Bathroom passes are designated for this. This will cut down on the bullying happening in the bathrooms, and in between classes the teachers could not previously see.
    – Require students to bring ALL their books to classes between 1st class and lunch. After lunch, again have students bring all books until end of day is over. Locker time is at lunch time only,and end of day. Transfer of students should be done in silence and in an orderly fashion, until the kids enter the cafeteria. Students SILENTLY carrying more books to class will help deter the opportunity for bullying to happen in the halls. This is true, especially when there are teachers posted in the halls watching the students.
    – Having a quiet and orderly transfer of students helps the teachers! The teachers cannot get a handle on students actions where there is complete chaos in the halls.
    – Institute a “Parents against bullying” advocacy group. Part of which is to help schools implement the above tools where needed. Gain volunteers and support to help the teachers.
    – Implement a nationwide foundation, donation funded, media driven, to support the families who are being abused by our schools.
    I understand there has been mentoring at your schools. However, I remember a mentoring system that extended beyond, just the first year. We had a mentoring system that followed the underclassmen until they were seniors.
    The model assigned seniors to different groups of underclassmen. It was an honor and duty, throughout the year for a senior to mentor one kid a week. The list of kids to mentor a week was switched out, so eventually all the underclassmen had a mentor. One day a week, the entire school knew it was “Little buddy” day. I think ours was on Wednesdays. That day the seniors spent their lunch hour with an underclassman. They would sit next to them at lunch, talk about their interests, play ball with them on the grounds and specifically watch for harassment, bullying, and ridicule on the playground. Infractions would be reported immediately! The mentoring happened all year for the seniors. It was added, as a requirement for part of their grade.
    I understand laws have changed, since I was young, however, we could implement this, as an ongoing basis in our schools, just tweak it a bit, so it WILL WORK!!
    I know our school had great success with this. This was one way the younger students had an advocate, the seniors learned responsibility, and teachers had a second pair of eyes. This also offered the potential victims of bullying, an outlet. IE: Kids afraid of being bullied by their peers would have someone to talk to. Like a big brother or sister.
    Let’s make this work for our kids. Lets get the bullying to STOP!!


    Last alternative, Have a Federally funded alternative choice for parents to educate their kids from home using an internet method or home school method.
    Close unsafe schools!

  5. My daughter was assaulted during a gym class by 3 older males with rocks had there been enough supervision the final hit to her head would have never happenned. With a head concussion and the school refused to tend to her fear of not only the males but 2 other females that laughed while she was attacked. The male that hit her on the head was arrested and he was allowed back in school. A restraining order by a judge and the school again allowed him to go back to school. The school thinks more about protecting their own and not the kids that are placed in their care. I am now in debt with thousands of dollars for medical expenses and legal fees and the district is offering another slap with a meeger amount that will not even cover my medical expenses let alone the almost 15K dollars in legal fees and they also want us to give up our constitutional rights for the rest of our lives????????????????????
    Is this the way our local government allowed to treat a child, “a victim of a crime”????
    Disgusting system

  6. I am a school monitor and a parent at my youngest son’s school and we as a school are trying to cut out bullying as a whole. I have a zero tolerance for it on the playground. We make them talk it out face to face, and if hitting is involved we immediately take it to the administrator. I have no idea why bullying is becoming worse, but we are doing our part in our elementary school to cut it out. I teach the kids that I was bullied when I was a child and that you never forget the pain it causes you and how it changes you on the inside. The students are shocked to know that I was a victim of bullying. I on the other hand have seen teachers use their power to scare parents and students into their ways. I cannot believe that some adults resort to intimidation to control. I personally cannot stand it. I like having open communication with parents to let them know what is going on with their children. It works wonders! Please parents remember, we have much more power than some of these people in charge at schools think they have. Work with your schools to establish a way to help ease these problems. I have dealt with administrators who wanted to blame my kids and I told them, if my kids are bullied I will have the bully arrested. Funny how fast they changed their ways on how they deal with the bullies once that happens. I fight for my kids, and I teach my students how to be tolerant and accepting of everyone. I just hope that the lessons carry over into the middle school and high school where the problems seem to be worse.

  7. I have two boys in rhea central elemt. In dayton TN. My boys have been bullyed for the last 4 years and i am sick of it! I have been to the school, school board and nothing gets done. I have had to take my kids to the hospital a few times for being hit in head with a ball bat, they come home with burses,stab with pencils, all kinds off stuff. The princpal and astistant told my kids last year they are tired of me coming to the school telling them stop this bullying. The princpal even makes jokes about it. I am not telling my kids not to defend there selfs 1 has had brain surgery 7 years ago and the same kids hit him make fun of him shove him around and the same with my other child. Us parents need to stand up and stop it. If the schools cant maybe we all need to get a lawer and sue them and the schools would stop it. What if i hit one of them they would not sit back and take it they would defend there selfs . so why cant my child defend his self. My son got ISS today because he hit someones foot by accidient well the child hit my son, my son hit him back and another bully thats been picking on him got in the middle of that fight and then there were 2 kids on my one. At the end of the day my son was geting on bus same bully in ISS was to and he shoved my son and my son hit him in the nose now he is out of school a week. The Princpal could of stop that. What do u do i am ready to pay any money i have to sue the school system. How can our kids learn with this crap going on. I pay just like everybody else. The system needs to be changed and the staff of schools need to grow up

  8. My little sister has been bullied all of her 8th grade year at school by her english teacher. My mother has tried talking to teachers and principle but nothing seems to be done about it. I would like to know how this kind of harrassment can go on without anyone seeing it. The school system is suppose to be for the children so that they can create a bright future for themselves. How are they suppose to become the next leaders of society when the ones preparing them are knocking them down? I would very much like to know. Thank you.

  9. My son is a sixth grader at an Atlanta public school and has been bullied verbally and physically and the school has completely ignored what my family and I are saying. This past week my son, who has informed teachers and etc about the bulling took the matters into his own hands. The kid slapped my son and then a fight broke out. The teacher was no where to be found. Aft the fight happen I was informed that my son was not allow to come back to school once we had a meeting with school officials. Instead of having a meeting with the proper officals we had a meeting with a football coach. A coach!!!!The teacher, the princpal nor the assistant princpal attended the meeting. The coach had the nerve to ask my son, “was the guy joking with you before he hit you” my reply was what does that have to do with my son and the bullying that he is experence,but not only is there a follower classmate bullying my son but so is a teacher. She has called and approach me and my mom like some street person wanting to fight. Aft being reported she now is threating to affect my son’s grades. What am I to do? No one is during what there motto is APS “Making a Difference”! I refuse to have my son on the news for hurting himself over this bullying with classmates and school officals. What choices do I have? Please help me….

  10. My daughter is a junior in HS and has been bullied/teased, physically assaulted, mentally abused by peers and school employees since she entered this school in 5th grade. The school has repeatedly denied it took place even when they called me to take her to the doctor when students had physically assaulted. Their excuses now – it is her fault and always been her fault. Their solution to bullying -the student being bullied should handle it themselves and tell the person doing the bullying that they are hurting their feelings. That will solve the problem. The school agreed to 20 plus demands in mediation in a Human Rights Violation suit, yet they still continue to lie and subject my daughter to harrassment and bullying by peers and school employees.
    The Human Rights Bureau in Montana very openly sided with the school. There is no justice for students in a school system.
    For me, disappointment in the school district and the Human Rights Bureau in Montana, is an understatement. Thank you.

  11. My daughter was bullied at her school last year for the last 6 months of the school year. The school district here did nothing until the last day of school to contact me about the terror she witnessed everyday for the latter part of the school year. It was a nightmare!!!! The Superintendent was not even aware of it when I finally had the chance to talk to him on the last day of the school year, of course, by that time it was TOO late. This year my daughter is going to a new school and the prinicipal there seems to care a lot more about not tolerating bullying. My daughter even met with him recently to share her ideas about how to stop bullying in the school districts. I am proud of her because even though she was put through so much last year, she pulled through. For me, disappointment in the school district, is an understatement. Thank you.

  12. Laws against bullying will work to protect students from other students, but when it is the teachers and the administrators -many of whom are parents themselves- who are doing the bullying, how does a parent responds in a prompt, substantive and sustainable manner to protect her child from “education professionals?”

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