But that could change soon: The D.C. Council is preparing to act on a long-neglected bill to prevent bullying in the city's public schools, offering immunity and protection for those who report bullying.
The Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 was introduced under a different name in January 2011 but never made much legislative progress. The revived bill would require all District agencies that work with youth to implement a bullying prevention policy, and to ensure that victims and witnesses who report bullying don't face retaliation. The bill also directs Mayor Vincent Gray to create a task force across agencies and review the effectiveness of anti-bullying strategies every two years.
"We have an obligation to protect all District youth from bullying and intimidation," said Council Chairman Kwame Brown.
However, the council's announcement that it would finally act on the bill -- a first markup has been scheduled for May 1 -- came one day after Gray said he was taking matters into his own hands.
On Tuesday, Gray announced he was creating a task force including D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, the directors of the health and parks department directors, and his LGBT adviser, among others. In the District of Columbia Anti-Bullying Action Plan, the mayor also called for a research report and a public forum, as well as a "model policy and standards."
Bullying has long been a problem in District schools. According to student surveys, at least 60 percent of students at every D.C. public middle school said they are "made fun of for the way they look or talk."
At Woodrow Wilson Senior High, 85 percent of students said students damaged or stole other students' property at least sometimes. At Ballou Senior High School, 73 percent said students were teased for the way they looked or acted.
"There are very few secrets in the Wilson Building," local political consultant Chuck Thies said. "I imagine the council knew the mayor was organizing a task force and because of this contest for attention, I think that's why we're finally seeing movement on this."