FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – After making national headlines for his story of being harassed as a child a Fort Worth city councilman is in Washington to speak to the President about bullying.
During a Fort Worth City Council meeting last October, Councilman Joel Burns tearfully described being bullied by fellow students for being gay. Video of his statements on bullying soon went viral and his story soon became part of a national call to stop the practice.
Tuesday President Obama and the First Lady asked the councilman to speak at a conference made up of students, parents and teachers to try and find ways to stop bullying.
Speaking as both a parent and the president, Barack Obama told young people that they shouldn’t have to accept bullying as an inevitable part of growing up. “If there’s one goal, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage,” President Obama said.
Experts say young people who are bullied are more likely to have trouble in school, abuse drugs and alcohol, and have health issues.
According to statistics from the White House, one-third of the nation’s students, or 13 million children, have been bullied. The issue has gained increased attention in recent years in part because of the impact of new technologies like Facebook and Twitter, and because of high-profile coverage of young people who have committed suicide after being bullied.
Since sharing his personal encounter, Burns has received more than 20,000 emails on Facebook from people sharing their experiences with bullying.
He says he hopes to bring his lessons, in Washington, back home to North Texas.
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