Bullying issue to be brought to Eastern

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Bridging Voices in Our Community will be hosting its fourth annual Bullying Conference from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

“Renewing Hope in Education: A Time for Prevention and Intervention,” will open up dialogue on a holistic approach around topics including suicide prevention, sexual assault and violence prevention, positive behavior intervention support, navigating girl world and many others, according to a mass email sent out to students.

Mildred Pearson, an associate professor of education said, the conference began in 2011 when a group of students were asked to write a research paper on these issues, which are commonly attributed to teens and adolescence.

Pearson said during that time there was a spike of suicide within the area with as young as 10-year-olds taking their lives; she said the students told her they should do something about the situation.

The research was presented at a public forum, which garnered positive responses from people and was asked to bring it back. Pearson said the original instructors who led the study were not present anymore, but the university saw value in such a cause and from that the conference was created.

“The conference is for students, faculty and staff from various disciplines. It is a ‘student-driven’ conference and includes faculty mentors working with undergraduate-graduate research, student volunteers, and Registered Student Organizations as partners,” Pearson said.

Pearson said the conference is important because it is aligned with the university’s mission statement of students having access to education of all levels of work.

Allan Beane, the keynote speaker, who is an internationally known and recognized as an expert on bullying prevention, which has allowed him to publish six anti-bullying books. Beane will address his son’s experience of bullying and the psychology of hope.

Pearson said the conference is divided into four different sections: social and emotional learning at all levels, which will focus on those two topics with five separate categories including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.

The second is support at all levels, which will have two sessions designed to help those participating with best practice information and skill building help assist student and faculty members with dealing with tough situations.

Student engagement and activities at all levels will focus on student’s participation and engagement within the Eastern-Charleston community. This segment will also help students with experimental learning experiences.

She said the final section is Administration and the law, which will help implement policies pertaining to bullying and reporting procedures.

“The overall goal is to educate and equip the learning community; offering support and hope for those we serve,” Pearson said.

Pearson, who acknowledges the increasing diversity of the campus, said the conference also deals with diversity and inclusion. She said professors should shift from the role of instruction to facilitation when dealing with issues of diversity and also be willing to learn from the students.

“It is necessary for us to remember that student will bring all of themselves including their ‘personal issues’ to EIU,” Pearson said. “Therefore, we must provide a venue for them to express their fears, uncertainties, suspicion and pain.”

 

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]