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Governor creates Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force

Group will examine bullying in schools, advise policies

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 11, 2014) — Gov. Steve Beshear today announced the creation of the Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force — a 22-member panel, including students — which will study bullying in schools and recommend practices and policies to help foster safer, harassment-free school environments.

Teenage Problems, Social Issues and BullyingMore than one in four Kentucky students aged 12 to 18 reported being bullied at school in 2011 and the Kentucky Department of Education recorded 15,520 incidents of bullying in Kentucky during the 2012-13 school year.

Research suggests that one out of every 10 high school dropouts cites bullying as the main reason for leaving school, and bullying is a significant contributing factor in many teen suicides and suicide attempts.

“No child should be so discouraged by bullies that he or she avoids school or withdraws from friends or activities,” Beshear said. “Yet recent research suggests that getting bullied is a common experience. This task force will work on ways to empower students and to implement practices that root out intimidation and harassment.”

The Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force will analyze existing laws and policies; interview school professionals, bullying victims and other experts; and collect training and resource materials. The group will submit its findings, including recommendations for policy initiatives and school practices, in a report to the governor by Nov. 15, 2015.

Task Force members include:

  • Commissioner Terry Holliday
  • Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes
  • Morgan Guess, of Paducah; 11-year-old student at Lone Oak Middle School who experienced bullying at her school; has since worked with students and social media to promote kindness and discourage bullying
  • Susan Guess, of Paducah; marketing director for Paducah Bank and mother to Morgan Guess
  • Mark Simendinger, of Edgewood; general manager of Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
  • Rachel Willoughby, of Prestonsburg; director, Mountain Regional Prevention Center at Mountain Comprehensive Care Center
  • Dr. Nancy Cunningham, of Louisville; licensed counseling psychologist and professor emeritus in the Department of Education and Counseling Psychology, Counseling and College Student Personnel at the University of Louisville
  • Ben Reno-Weber, of Louisville; CEO, Kentucky YMCA
  • Dr. Vestena Robbins, of Richmond; policy adviser for the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities; adjunct faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies at UK
  • Dr. Thomas Aberli, of Louisville; principal, Atherton High School
  • Jon Akers, of Georgetown; executive director for the Kentucky Center for School Safety
  • Bo Matthews, of Glasgow; superintendent, Barren County Schools
  • Carl Frazier, of Lexington; attorney at Stoll Keenon Ogden
  • Craig Browning, of Smiths Grove; regional president, U.S. Bank
  • Dr. Patty Cook-Craig, of Richmond; associate professor and chair of the MSW Community and Social Development Concentration at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work
  • Juanita Collier Spangler, of Whitesburg; sixth-grade language arts teacher at Whitesburg Middle School
  • Major Robert Carter III, of Madisonville; Madisonville Police Department
  • Dr. Kelly Davis, of Bowling Green; director of Exceptional Children for the Green River Region Educational Cooperative
  • Sen. Mike Wilson, of Bowling Green
  • Sen. Dorsey Ridley, of Henderson
  • Rep. Derrick Graham, of Frankfort
  • Rep. Regina Bunch, of Williamsburg