SAN GABRIEL (CBS) — A Southland high school student will be among a group of young people and parents on Thursday sharing their suggestions on how to prevent bullying with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in the Oval Office.
“I’m really excited,” Gabrielino High School junior Kimiko Nishitsuji told reporters. “I feel it’s a great opportunity to spread awareness on such a huge scale of the seriousness of these problems and how much it affects youth.”
The meeting is being held in connection with the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, which the Obamas will then speak at in the East Room.
The conference will also include Secretary of Heath and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius fielding online questions on bullying prevention and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaking on a national conference call with reporters and at the conference’s wrap-up session.
The conference is part of the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent bullying, which have also included the president and first lady recording videos and the establishment of a website, StopBullying.gov.
The conference will be streamed online at Whitehouse.gov/live from 7:30 a.m.-noon Pacific Daylight Time.
One of the nation’s top experts on hazing and bullying, Dr. Susan Lipkins, tells KNX 1070 the only solutions that will be truly effective are those that deal with the reality of the social fabric of our schools.
Nishitsuji, a 17-year-old who lives in San Gabriel, said she was chosen to attend the conference after being featured in several articles and making a YouTube video for the Make it Better Project, whose goal is to make schools safer for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths.
Nishitsuji, who was bullied when she attended Jefferson Middle School in San Gabriel, said stopping bullying “needs to start with the adults.”
“A lot of teachers and administrators that I was around grew up in a generation when bullying was OK and it was just a part of childhood,” Nishitsuji told “A lot of them turned a blind eye because they really didn’t know how to deal with it.”
Nishitsuji said when she was in the sixth and seventh grades she was bullied, based on perceived sexuality. She was also the object of racial slurs on a daily basis for “probably two years.”
Nishitsuji said she was punched and shoved down “in front of a school security guard.”
“The counselors didn’t make a great effort at protecting me from retaliation,” Nishitsuji said. “That’s something that really needs to be dealt with — protecting students after the fact — and dealing with why the bullies are doing what they’re doing.”
Nishitsuji said she later learned “that my bully was being bullied by someone else.”
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