BY BTL STAFF
Bullying is not a “childhood rite of passage” as it was once viewed historically. Nor does bullying “make kids tougher.” In today’s society, the reality is that bullying has devastating effects on young people such as avoidance, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression, and sometimes suicide.
In an effort to educate and raise awareness about bullying prevention, the International Bullying Prevention Association will host Michigan’s first annual Bullying Prevention Conference on Oct. 1 at Beaumont Hopsital’s Royal Oak Campus to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Month.
The campaign, held during the month of October, was founded in 2006 in the U.S. by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to unite communities nationwide.
Educators, counselors, parents and community agency staff from the Midwest region are encouraged to attend the conference to discuss bullying and peer aggression. Workshops will cover topics ranging from the legal aspects of bullying and identity-based bullying to the long-term impacts of bullying on health to best-practices for preventing and alleviating teasing, bullying and harassment. Strategies and solutions will be developed to take back to attendees schools and communities.
Patti Agatston, Ph.D., a national cyberbullying expert and IBPA president, and Anne Collier, founder of the iCanHelpLine, will open up the conference with a keynote and discussion on “Cyberbullying and Digital Citizenship Strategies.”
Jessie Fullenkamp, Youth Services Director of the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park will facilitate a session titled, “Recognizing SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression) to Create Safety with Youth.”
The presentation will focus on the REC Family Acceptance Project’s research on the importance of primary caregivers demonstrating certain behaviors toward their LGBTQ child and reducing other behaviors to increase the child’s positive health and safety outcomes. The specific intersection of this presentation with bullying prevention is related to parents who often focus on attempts to get their LGBTQ child to conform being the answer to them not being bullied at school, when research shows the importance of LGBTQ children feeling safe being themselves paired with primary caregiver and school intervention to create a safer environment.
The conference is sponsored by Beaumont Children’s, NoBLE (No Bullying Live Empowered) and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Additional support comes from the Michigan Elementary and Secondary Principals Association.
Registration is $25 per person and includes breakfast and lunch. Professional development credits are available. Principals, teachers, counselors, liaison officers, social workers, school board members and those working in community agencies are encouraged to attend.
For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.ibpaworld.org/mi.
The conference is preceded by a free event also at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak for parents and adult family members covering information and strategies specific to online safety. Karuna Nain, Facebook global safety manager, will present “Navigating the Social World with Your Teens — Insights from Facebook,” on Sept. 29 from 7-8 p.m. Registration is required online for this event.