Fort Worth City Council member talking to Obama about bullying

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on March 9, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 9 at 9:12 PM

A Fort Worth City Council member is in Washington D.C. to meet with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

Joel Burns is working with the first couple to launch a new campaign to stop bullying.

"I was cornered after school by some older kids who roughed me up," said Joel Burns, Fort Worth City councilman. "They said that I was (bleep) and I should die and go to hell where I belonged."

Joel Burns shared his personal encounter with bullies at a Fort Worth City Council meeting in October. He never thought his message would go all the way to the White House.

In the last five months, 20,000 people have contacted him through facebook and email.

On Tuesday morning, the president's office called and asked Burns to get on a plane for a national conference to be one voice for the victims of bullies.

"Their stories are quite poignant," said Burns. "They are struggling. What I am going to take to the President are the stories of the people who have reached out to me since October."

"That's why we are holding this summit," said first lady Michelle Obama.

Thursday, the first lady and the president will host the bullying prevention conference.

The government launched a website, complete with print outs and advice for parents and teachers to identify and prevent harassment.

"The good news is there is a growing movement led by young people themselves to make our school and communities places where no one is made to feel alone or afraid for being different," Burns said.

Burns hopes to bring his lessons home to North Texas.

"The key for all of us to remember is it is not the responsibility of the kids to end bullying in their schools," Burns said. "That is the responsibility for those of us who are the adults. And I am so very glad the President agrees with that."

Thursday’s conference will bring together parents, students and educators to discuss ways to stop bullying.

Email: cnorton@wfaa.com

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