News and Press Releases

Federal, State And Local Officials Band Together To Combat Bullying

September 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in partnership with local, state, and federal leaders will convene over 100 community leaders as part of the San Francisco Bay Area Stop Bullying Summit to discuss the negative impacts of bullying in our society and what can be done to combat it.

The Summit will bring together national, state and local leaders from law enforcement, education, technology and community-based organizations to develop and share action plans to stop bullying. The summit will feature panels on federal, state and local laws; best practices, policies and programs; the impact of bullying on families; and responses to cyber-bullying from the technology sector. More than a hundred Bay Area region law enforcement, education and community leaders are expected to attend.

As part of the effort, free screenings of the critically acclaimed documentary “Bully” are being held in Oakland and San Francisco for young people. The free screenings were kicked off yesterday at the historic Herbst Theater as well as theaters throughout San Francisco. Over 3000 students from San Francisco public schools attended the free screening of the movie. From Monday, September 17 through Thursday, October 4, more than 13,000 students from Oakland Public Schools will attend screenings at the Regal Cinemas in Oakland's Jack London Square.

Bullying and harassment in California schools is reaching epidemic levels and for many young people the harassment continues online. One in three California public school students report being bullied or harassed at school at least once in the past year. Nationwide, 16% of students report having been cyberbullied.

“The US Attorney’s Office takes very seriously the negative impacts that bullying can have on our communities throughout Northern California,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. “We are proud to be working across the spectrum with schools, local governments, police departments, and community leaders to help create an environment where every person feels safe and secure from bullying and undue persecution.”

“Combating harassment in schools is a priority of the Civil Rights Division and I am proud to participate in this summit to bring attention to this important issue,” said Assistant U.S Attorney General Thomas Perez. “Harassment by or against students in schools is unacceptable, not a ‘rite of passage’ to be endured by anyone. Schools are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe educational environment for all students. The Civil Rights Division is committed to vigorously enforcing federal laws that protect students from harassment and enable them to learn."

“Children cannot learn if they don’t feel safe,” said Assistant US Secretary of Education Russlyn Ali. “Putting an end to bullying is a critical task for everyone who cares about our students, and I am so glad to see educators, advocates, and different levels of government working collaboratively to find solutions to this problem.”

“Nothing is more important to a child's education than their basic health and safety,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “There is no place for bullying, intimidation, harassment or violence in our schools. A student who doesn't feel safe in school is in no position to learn - and our goal remains providing a world-class education to every student."

“San Francisco is a city that prides itself on providing all children with a world class education," said Mayor Ed Lee. “This two-day San Francisco Bay Area Stop Bullying Summit will bring together San Francisco public school students, law enforcement, and education and community leaders to demonstrate our collective commitment to providing a safe environment where every student has the opportunity to succeed."

“I am proud that San Francisco Unified School District has been at the forefront in creating bully free schools,” said San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent Richard A. Carranza. “Yet even in San Francisco the prevalence of bullying demonstrates that students reflect the norms of our society, a society that has been too tolerant of bullying. Our schools are stepping up their efforts and we’re glad to be part of a growing national movement to address this head on. Our children deserve to feel safe at school, at home and in their communities.”

“This is a huge coup for our kids,” said Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Superintendent Tony Smith. “I’m thrilled that Oakland has been selected as one of the cities where Bully is not only playing, but also where the filmmakers are arranging for every middle and high school student to see the movie—free-of-charge. I’m excited about this unique opportunity to further engage students in an anti-violence culture and move us closer to the District goal of establishing schools as safe havens as well as healthy and supportive communities.”

“As young people across the Bay Area return to school, I'm honored to partner with so many distinguished public servants to build on the BULLY movie's urgent call to action,” said Lee Hirsch, Director and Producer of “Bully”. “ It's incredible to see educators and students, parents and policy makers from the Bay Area, Silicon Valley and beyond, working together to transform schools and communities into places where respect and empathy are championed, where each and every kid can thrive.”

The Summit will take place at Futures without Violence at 100 Montgomery Street in the Presidio. For more information, please visit



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