The Heard Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization hosted a bullying presentation Thursday night in order to raise awareness about one of the hot button issue in today’s schools.
On hand to speak on the topic were Connie Hill, program director with West Georgia RESA (Regional Educational Service Agency) and Officer Jay Repetto of the Franklin Police Department.
Hill addressed many topics of bullying with a slide show presentation, while Officer Repetto addressed the ramifications of bullying from the standpoint of law enforcement.
A large crowd of about 150 parents, teachers, and students were in attendance at the school gymnasium.
“We wanted to put together a program that would get parents more involved with this topic,” said Heard Elementary PTO president Jenny Cheeves.
Hill explained several aspects of bullying including defining, reporting, and prevention. Hill told the audience that “a person is being bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time to negative actions from one or more other persons.”
She went on to describe the three major points which define whether or not actions are considered to be bullying.
The first point she made was that the action must be repeated over and over again. Secondly, she stated that the actions must be intentional causing distress, fear, and/or harm to the victim. Lastly she explained that the actions must be power-based in that a victim is unable to defend themselves. She added that this last point is the most subjective and can be difficult to ascertain in certain circumstances.
Hill then clarified the differences between bullying, horseplay, and fighting. She reported that many parents often confuse a singular incident of fighting with bullying although it does not meet the definition of bullying. She emphasized that properly defining bullying is extremely important given current three strike bullying laws, especially in the State of Georgia, where bullying laws are some of the toughest in the nation.
Officer Repetto touched on several topics as well including a new problem, cyberbullying, which has developed thanks to the technological advancements of our time.
Repetto mentioned an example of a recent arrest of a person from outside of the county who had traveled here from another county to fight someone after an argument over facebook. He also spoke of the warning signs of bullying that parents should look for such as bruising or physical marks, slowed academic performance, and missing or damaged possessions.
One of the key points made by both Hill and Repetto was the importance of children reporting bullying problems to adults whether they be at home, at school, or law enforcement.
The PTO raffled off a gift certificate at the event which was won by Lisa Pless and songs were performed by 39 third graders after the presentation.
If you would like more information about bullying you can contact Connie Hill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connie Hill of West Georgia RESA discusses “The Bullying Circle” with the group