>Sirdeaner Walker, who testified last month on Capitol Hill in favor of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, appeared on NPR's Here and Now yesterday to talk about a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics that encourages pediatricians to play a more active role in bullying prevention.
Walker's 11-year-old son, Carl Walker-Hoover, died by suicide in April after enduring constant bullying at school, including being called "gay" and "fag" by his peers despite the fact that Carl did not identify as gay. Carl would have turned 12 on the National Day of Silence on April 17 when hundreds of thousands of students took a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender bullying.
The AAP's new policy statement debunks the ridiculous claim made by opponents of anti-bullying policies that kids will be kids and bullying is somehow beneficial for students like Carl to experience.
It is clear that in this country, it must first be accepted that bullying behaviors cannot be considered a normative rite of passage and that they can be precursors for more serious downstream consequences. In terms of primary prevention, early parenting behaviors such as cognitive stimulation and emotional support have been shown to confer resilience against the future development of bullying behaviors in elementary-aged schoolchildren. Promotion and reinforcement of such parenting skills plus recognition, screening, and appropriate referral as secondary prevention strategies are essential ways that pediatricians can collectively contribute to this aspect of youth violence prevention.