Press Release: School Administrators Union Joins with Teachers to Endorse ‘Bully’ Documentary

New Film Challenges Educators, Parents and Students to Address School Bullying

WASHINGTON—A new documentary that challenges the education community to address and prevent school bullying now has the endorsement of the nation’s only school administrators’ union.

The American Federation of School Administrators added its members’ voices to those of the American Federation of Teachers and others who have called the documentary “Bully” one of this year’s most important films.

AFSA’s Executive Board adopted a resolution urging members to see the movie, which presents the stories of five students who were victims of bullying. The vote came after AFSA officers and board members saw the film at a screening arranged by the American Federation of Teachers.

“We aren’t just going to ignore this and wait for others to prescribe what to do about bullying,” said AFSA President Diann Woodard. “We are going to play an active part in writing the prescription.”

Woodard said bullying is a serious problem in the nation’s schools, and like the people in the film, everyone in the education community is struggling to know how to handle this widespread problem.

“We want to be a part of the training, the programs, the discussions and the movement to solve the bullying that plagues our schools,” Woodard said. “AFSA has for years emphasized the importance of overall training and professional development for administrators and school educators, and this powerful movie helps propel the critical importance of training onto the national stage.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten welcomed AFSA’s endorsement of the bullying prevention message of the movie. “Members of both our organizations work together in many school systems across the country,” Weingarten said. “AFSA members are critical in gaining the widest possible audience for the ‘Bully’ documentary.”

Earlier this month, the AFT and the National Education Association co-sponsored a pre-screening of the movie attended by 450 Washington policymakers, congressional staff, media and stakeholder organizations. That event included a panel discussion with Lee Hirsch, the director of the film.

On Friday, the White House hosted a screening of the film to which it invited representatives of educational and children’s advocacy organizations. Several AFT leaders and staff members were included in the audience. Following the showing of the movie, the White House released a statement of support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act, two legislative proposals in the effort to prevent school bullying.

The AFT is also working with several other organizations in efforts to prevent bullying, including an event called Stand4Change that will take place in two weeks. On May 4, 2012 at noon Eastern Daylight Time, students and educators around the country will stand as a sign of support for efforts to end bullying. So far, schools representing more than 700,000 students are registered to take part, with more signing up every day.

“The AFT is committed to putting an end to bullying in our schools. That will take greater awareness of the problem and a change in the culture that has too often viewed bullying as just a rite of passage for kids,” Weingarten said. “All educators know that schools must be places where students feel safe and can thrive without fear of taunts, shame or humiliation. Teachers and administrators agree: There has never been, and never will be, an acceptable reason to bully a child.”

More than a year ago, the AFT launched its “See a Bully, Stop a Bully” campaign to spread the word to parents, teachers, administrators and students about the devastating effects of bullying. As part of the campaign, thousands of posters and over 300,000 blue wristbands with the slogan “See a Bully – Stop a Bully” have been distributed. When students see a teacher or staff person, or another student wearing the wristband, it tells them they have a friend—someone they can reach out to for help or to talk to in confidence.

Since “Bully” went into wide release on April 13, local AFT affiliates in cities across the country have sponsored showings of the film, discussions of bullying issues and other events encouraging people to see the movie.

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