by Yoon Young Lee
The Research and Policy Coordinator for Bullying Prevention Initiatives at the US Department of Education, Deborah Temkin, leads the government-wide campaign against bullying. She works for all the activities in the Department that relate to bullying prevention, including 9 federal agencies and the Bullying Prevention Working Group who are working for reducing peer bullying in American Schools and StopBullying.gov. Temkin planned various educational events, played the role of a voice for isolated adolescents, and designed research projects.
She, as the bullying prevention coordinator, was mainly managing and executing the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summits in 2010. In 2011, she also centrally contributed to the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention.
Her life course turned to bullying prevention because of her painful adolescent memories from middle school. Temkim had a falling out over the school newspaper as her close school friend turned into an archenemy who led most of her classmates against her. One day, she was pushed from school bus windows and thrown into a water fountain. She broke her tooth.
Those painful memories led Temkin into a successful career, leading and coordinating various federal governments’ anti-bullying campaigns with 9 departments and 32 offices.
From her own experience, she realized that understanding the roots of bullying is very vital for prevention and that the school is innately responsible, rather than the kids who lead the bullying. Therefore, helping schools find effective strategies to stop is important.
In 2012, such rapid success put her in the running for a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for outstanding public service. She was named as one of 33 finalists and 9 of those will be awarded medals by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service in this fall.