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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fear of being bullied is something no child in America should have to live with, but it leads many kids to skip school or act out violently. The topic was the focus of a summit in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.
One in three middle and high school students in America report being bullied. It can happen in a hallway, outside of school or in cyber space.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the 2nd annual Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit, saying that bullying is physical and emotional abuse that can damage a child for life.
"Students who are bullied are more likely to struggle in school — they are more likely to skip class. They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They are more likely to be depressed and be at higher risk of suicide," Sebelius said. "For youth, being bullied means the constant terror of worrying about when you are going to be picked on next."
No child is born a bully. They learn the behavior from adults.
–Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS
Sebelius also sent a warning to parents about setting the right example for kids when they see one child bullying another.
"No child is born a bully. They LEARN the behavior from adults," she said. "And every time an adult witnesses bullying and ignores it, or responds in a way that makes it seem like it's not a big deal, it sends such an important message to other youth that bullying is OK."
"Now, most adults would never walk by a 12-year-old physically hurting another without doing something about it," Sebelius continued. "We should feel the same obligation to intervene to stop forms of bullying that are just as damaging."
HHS has launched a website to help parents, schools and communities develop programs to stop children and adults from bullying each other. You can get more information by going to www.stopbullying.gov.