Workshop will discuss bullying preventionIt’s a character seen in just about every high school movie or after school sitcom: the bully.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
It’s a character seen in just about every high school movie or after school sitcom: the bully. But while teasing and ridicule may be inevitable in fictional school settings, a Red Wing group hopes to find ways to make bullying a non-issue in this community.
“Bullying is so anti-welcoming,” said Sharon Marty of the Walking the Talk of Welcome Committee.
Next Saturday, the group will hold A Community Conversation about Bullying, a daylong workshop designed to get local residents talking about the topic.
This is the second year that the Walking the Talk group has sponsored a communitywide discussion. Last year, the conversation centered on how Red Wing can be more accepting of lesbians, gays and transgendered people.
“This year we were focused again on how to be more welcoming,” Marty said.
Organizers are expecting about 150 community members at the event. They hope to draw a wide variety of community members.
“Part of the way the youth learn about bullying is from adults,” said Marcia Jensen of Red Wing Community Education, which helped organize the event.
“It’s not a kid problem, it’s not a school problem, it’s not a group problem. It’s a community problem,” she said.
The event will begin with keynote speaker Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbulling Research Center and a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He will discuss cyber bullying, which can affect students even after they leave the classroom.
“It’s a behind the scenes thing,” Jensen said. “It doesn’t happen during the school day.”
“When kids were bullied in the past, it stayed in the school,” echoed Red Wing Police school liaison officer Travis Bray. “(This) is right there in their face all the time.”
Then, a community panel — composed of Bray, Burnside Elementary School Principal Sheila Beckner, child advocate Megan Conway, church youth worker Lisa Howe and Twin Bluff Middle School Principal Chris Palmatier — will answer questions about bullying.
“Our panel is going to talk about what challenges they’ve faced when it comes to bullying, what they’ve done and how the community can help,” Marty said.
After lunch, attendees will break up into groups and will discuss what they would do in a certain scenario that includes bullying. The day will wrap up with an update about the Governor’s Task Force for the Prevention of Bullying from Goodhue County Attorney Steve Betcher.
While the day will focus on how to prevent bullying in Red Wing, organizers were quick to point out that the issue isn’t particularly prevalent here.
“I don’t think we have any more or any less (than other schools),” Bray said. “But we definitely see it, and we deal with it.”
“There was no single incident that triggered this,” Marty added. “We do know that in southeast Minnesota and in our state and in other states, it’s been a problem.”
Still, organizers want to make sure the community is aware that bullying does happen and make sure residents have tools to help deal with it.
“We can’t solve it in a day,” Marty said. “But we want people to be aware and we want them to feel empowered to help others and themselves.”
What: A Community Conversation about Bullying
When: Saturday Oct. 6, 8:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
Where: Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, 308 Pioneer Road
Cost: $15, includes lunch
More information or to register: 651-385-4565 or www.redwing.k12.mn.us under Community Ed/Rec., class #9500-12F1