Joins State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Grasmick to officially declare start of the Week
BALTIMORE, MD (May 23, 2011) – First Lady Judge Katie O’Malley today, joined by State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nancy Grasmick, educators, students and staff, officially kicked-off the second annual Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Maryland by visiting Lakeland Elementary/Middle School, home to one of the state’s top anti-bullying programs.
“It is so great to be here with all of the students and staff today at Lakeland to kick-off Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week this year,” said First Lady O’Malley. “When it comes to bullying, everyone is a victim – our children, our schools and our communities. It is so important to bring attention to this issue to keep our children safe and our families aware. Together, with the Maryland State Department of Education and our private and public partners, we are encouraging parents, teachers, students, friends and family to educate themselves and speak out against bullying.”
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. During the 2009-2010 school year in Maryland, a total of 3,318 incidents of bullying were reported, an increase of 2,132 over the previous year.
Last year, First Lady O’Malley partnered with the Maryland State Department of Education to declare the first Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Maryland to encourage schools across the state to engage students in events to stress non-tolerance towards bullying.
"Bullying behavior affects everyone - the victim, the bully, and the school community as a whole," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "The Maryland State Department of Education is pleased to work with the First Lady on her important effort to raise awareness about this growing problem. Children can only perform to their potential when classrooms and hallways are safe."
This year, Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown have joined the First Lady in participating in events across the state. Later this week, the Governor will travel to Urbana Middle School in Frederick County, and the Lt. Governor will visit Central Middle School in Anne Arundel County to talk with children about the importance of bullying awareness and prevention.
“I am pleased to join Katie in highlighting our State’s efforts to prevent bullying,” said Governor O’Malley. “Working together, Maryland has passed some of the most comprehensive bullying laws in the nation, but we still have much more work to do to give our children the brighter future they deserve.”
The Governor and First Lady recently recorded a PSA to encourage bullying awareness and prevention.
“Bullying is a destructive force in the lives of far too many children, but we can take action to stop it if we come together and work as a community,” said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. “First Lady Katie O’Malley has been instrumental in promoting bullying awareness and prevention, and I am proud to join her and Governor O’Malley in Maryland’s efforts to stand up against bullying.”
Later today, CBS Radio and WPGC-FM will host a forum about bullying live on the air at 7 p.m. on 95.5 FM. Panelists for this forum include Special Assistant to President Obama for Education Roberto Rodríguez, Dr. Jeri Dyson from the National Institutes of Health, local students, educators, community leaders, and other mental health and cyberbullying experts.
"Our Administration is dedicated to ensuring that all of our children can grow and learn in a safe environment, free of bullying,” said Roberto Rodríguez. “Opportunities to discuss this issue and highlight the great work that people are doing is an important step in addressing this problem.”
Judge O’Malley has made anti-bullying efforts a top priority. In March, the First Lady joined President and Mrs. Obama at the White House for a bullying conference. Last week, the First Lady visited with students from Carver Center for the Arts to view and discuss PSAs they created about the effects of bullying. She has also recorded a video for the It Gets Better campaign to give hope to LGBT youth and other young people facing bullying and harassment.