School Bullies: Hawaii DOE Programs Blasted At Federal Meeting

Nathan Eagle/Honolulu Civil Beat

Editor's Note: This is part of our occasional series on bullying in Hawaii schools. Read previous coverage here.

The federal government now has a much clearer understanding of how serious a problem bullying and suicide is for Hawaii kids, especially among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Kiran Ahuja, executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, heard from a diverse group of nonprofits and health professionals during a roundtable talk Friday at the University of Hawaii.

"I'm really impressed with the work that's been happening," she said after a more than hour-long discussion that ranged from successful initiatives to serious challenges. "I didn't know Hawaii was dealing with such a significant suicide rate. The president has made bullying a high priority and this is something the administration will continue to work on."

Participants highlighted the Hawaii Department of Education's ineffectiveness in addressing bullying in public schools despite decades of horror stories and surveys showing the state leads the nation in many categories, including kids who have made a suicide plan. They underscored the need for administrators in particular to deliver a clear and consistent message that this will no longer be tolerated.

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