General Articles

National Organizations Call for Inclusion of Anti-Bullying Initiatives in Gun Violence Prevention Proposals

SIECUS has joined 40 other advocacy organizations in signing onto a letter organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) calling for the inclusion of anti-bullying provisions in President Obama’s gun control executive and legislative proposals.

With the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012 resulting in the death of 20 children and 6 adults as the catalyst for imminent action, the President tasked Vice President Joe Biden to lead the Task Force on Gun Violence to develop policy proposals to reduce gun violence.[1]

On January 16, 2013, President Obama announced the Task Force’s proposals, intended to bring varying state gun control legislation up to a higher national standard.  The White House’s proposals include strengthening the background check system; requiring background checks for all gun sales; banning assault weapons; limiting magazines; ending the freeze on gun violence research; increasing access to mental healthcare; and efforts to make schools safer with new resource officers and counselors, better emergency plans, and a more nurturing school climate.[2]

SIECUS and its partners commend the inclusion of school climate policies as part of broader gun violence prevention efforts.  Mental health support and anti-bullying initiatives are proven prevention methods for school violence and critical to securing school safety.  According to the  Safe Schools Initiative report released in 2004 by the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education, almost three-quarters of those engaged in targeted school violence felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others prior to the incident.  In several cases, individual attackers had experienced bullying and harassment that was long-standing and severe.[3]  If those children had better access to mental health support, and a more supportive school experience, they may not have become violent.

The White House has decided not to send its own version of a gun control bill to Congress, and is instead backing S. 150, a bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and other legislative efforts in line with the President’s proposals.[4]  None of the existing gun control bills introduced in the 113th Congress thus far incorporate the components of ensuring safe schools as outlined by the White House Task Force proposals.  While the President has begun a series of speaking engagements specific to address gun violence across the country at the end of January, it seems unlikely that there will be any immediate action on gun violence prevention bills in the Republican led House of Representatives.[5]

[1]The White House, “Now is the Time,” (16 January 2013), accessed 30 January 2013, <>  

[2]The White House, “Now is the Time,” (16 January 2013), accessed 30 January 2013, <>  

[3]Bryan Vossekuil et al., “Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative” United States Secret Service and United States Department of Education, (July 2004), accessed 30 January 2013,

[4]Brian Montopoli, “Gun control bill faces long odds in Congress,” CBS News,(24 January 2013), accessed 30 January 2013,  <