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The basics of banishing bullying

February 6, 2019

WESTVILLE — Nearly 100 La Porte County adults in positions of influence are better prepared to address and prevent bullying after attending an anti-bullying seminar at Purdue University Northwest on Friday.

Bailey Huston, coordinator of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, helped attendees properly define bullying, understand the dynamics behind it, and identify effective ways to intervene and advocate on behalf of bullying victims.

“The whole idea behind this workshop was to bring stakeholders together in one place – who work with youth and students – to talk all about bullying prevention,” Huston said at PNW’s Westville campus.

“We covered everything from the roles that students play, how to support students in a bullying situation, cyberbullying, students with disabilities, as well as lots of great resources that everyone can bring back to their schools, communities and students that they’re working with.”

Educators, school counselors, juvenile probation officers, social workers, law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, volunteer mentors, foster parents and more came together to discuss best practices for addressing and preventing bullying, and to network and share resources.

“The biggest thing that I’ve gotten from this training is the difference between conflict and bullying,” said Chip Cotman, director of juvenile court services for the La Porte Circuit Court. “And I think that is the biggest takeaway that I have, because there is a difference between conflict and bullying, and how you deal with both of them.”

Yveline Hulse, a counselor at Coolspring Elementary School, said Friday’s presentation reassured her that Michigan City Area Schools is taking proper steps to address bullying.

“This was informative because she was able to reiterate some of the stuff the school district has been doing,” Hulse said. “And it was good to be able to get an actual, legal definition of what bullying is because there’s a lot of misconception on what bullying truly is. So, it was good to see that defined for us.”

Steve Barnes, automotive instructor at the A.K. Smith Area Career Center, said, “I almost feel like I got more from the people sitting at my table than from the presentation itself. Not to diminish the presentation, because it was fantastic. But just the networking seems as valuable as the presentation itself.”

Huston said that’s exactly what she hoped her audience would gain from the experience.

“With presentations like this, when you have everyone in one place, I really like to allow the opportunity for people to collaborate and brainstorm ideas, because I think that’s where the power is,” she said.

“While I may know a lot about bullying, they know a lot about their community. So, being able to really pair those two up – information and strategies about bullying, and them being the experts on their community – I think it’s really powerful to bring those two things into one presentation.”

The La Porte Circuit Court brought Friday’s workshop to PNW via a public service grant from NIPSCO.

For more information on seminar content or to book a presentation with the Minnesota-based organization, visit pacer.org/bullying.

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