Governor and First Lady join Facebook and Time Warner’s Cartoon Network leadership and special guests to encourage students, parents, communities and schools to stand up against bullying
Governor and First Lady take the “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” pledge
GAMBRILLS, MD (October 6, 2011) –Governor Martin O’Malley and First Lady Judge Katie O’Malley today joined Facebook’s Vice President of U.S. Public Policy Joel Kaplan and Cartoon Network President/COO Stuart Snyder, Interim State Superintendent Dr. Bernard Sadusky, Anne Arundel County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin Maxwell, and other officials and special guests for a National Bullying Prevention Month kick-off event at Arundel High School in Anne Arundel County, MD.
After a surprise introduction by Ali Sepasyar and Jackson Rogow, hosts of Cartoon Network’s “Dude, What Would Happen,” the Governor and First Lady, before hundreds of parents, educators and students, took the “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” pledge. The Governor also challenged other governors across the nation and all Marylanders to take the pledge and become active in their communities against bullying.
“Maryland has become a leader in the fight against bullying with some of the most comprehensive laws in the nation, but it will take all of us –students, parents and family members, educators and community leaders –to stop the abuse,” said Governor O’Malley. “Katie and I stand with Facebook and Time Warner’s Cartoon Network to do everything we can to prevent bullying and help our children grow and learn with the support they deserve. We challenge Marylanders and all Americans to speak up and become involved in this initiative. Together, we can return to the work of building up our children’s future.”
As October is also Parental Involvement in Education Month, the Administration encourages all parents to take an active role in their children’s lives by joining in efforts to prevent bullying. The Governor and First Lady also announced that on October 17th at 7 p.m., Maryland families and children are encouraged to take time to take the pledge together and discuss the importance of bullying prevention.
“Martin and I encourage everyone to stand up to bullying in their schools and communities, said First Lady Katie O’Malley. “As parents, we know firsthand that with the Internet, social networks and cell phones, the face of bullying has changed. The abuse no longer stops at the school yard, but bullies now have access to their victims 24 hours a day and the results can last a lifetime. We applaud Facebook and Time Warner’s Cartoon Network for their outstanding commitment to bullying prevention. We must do all we can to stand up against bullying. It starts with each of us.”
The O’Malley-Brown Administration joins Facebook and Time Warner’s Cartoon Network in efforts to combat bullying, and applauds their efforts to address cyberbullying as a growing concern for youth.
“At Facebook, our mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” said Joel Kaplan, Vice President-U.S. Public Policy. “We believe we have a shared responsibility to educate both parents and teens about safety – and it’s a responsibility that we embrace. Together, we’ve launched the Stop Bullying: Speak Up Social Pledge app on Facebook. At its core, the pledge is a public statement to your friends, family, and the community around you. It says that you will take action if you see bullying occur, changing someone’s life in a meaningful way. I want to thank our hosts – Governor Martin O’Malley, the First Lady of Maryland, Katie O’Malley, my partner at Time Warner, Stu Snyder, and the many people who worked so hard to convene this event today.”
“It’s inspiring to see so many students taking the Stop Bullying: Speak Up pledge, and we thank Governor and First Lady O’Malley for their leadership,” said Cartoon Network’s President and COO Stuart Snyder. “At Cartoon Network, we believe we all have a role to play in stopping bullying, and it’s exciting to see so many students take an important first step with the governor here today.”
The Maryland State Department of Education and local education leaders have been instrumental in supporting efforts to combat bullying in Maryland.
“Students, teachers, principals, and parents tell me that bullying is a big problem that hasn’t gone away,” said Interim State Superintendent of Schools Bernard Sadusky. “School should be an oasis for learning and discovery. We need to curb this type of behavior in our schools, and with the help of stronger parental involvement and a project like this, we are taking a step in the right direction.”
Governor and Judge O’Malley are committed to addressing bullying in Maryland. Though Maryland is the seventh state to enact an anti-bullying law that protects all students, there are still many instances of bullying throughout communities and schools. In May, the Governor, First Lady and Lt. Governor participated in events during the second annual Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Maryland. The Governor and First Lady O’Malley recorded a PSA encouraging Marylanders to stand up against bullying, and the First Lady also recorded a video for the It Gets Better campaign to give hope to LGBT youth and other young people facing bullying and harassment.
In 2005, Maryland passed the Safe Schools Reporting Act, which requires the development of a form to be used by students, parents, and close family members to report incidents of bullying, harassment, or intimidation to school administrators. The O’Malley-Brown Administration aims to digitize these forms to make them more accessible and streamline the process for Marylanders to report bullying incidents. In the most recent legislative session, the General Assembly passed legislation requiring nonpublic schools that accept State funds to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying, harassment, and intimidation; additionally, the Task Force to Study the Creation of a Maryland Center for School Safety was established with an emphasis on school safety and violence.