The Herald Bulletin

February 20, 2014

Anti-bullying expert plans program

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

PENDLETON, Ind. — One way to combat bullies is to build self-confidence. Another is knowing your child’s strengths and helping to build them.

Those are a couple of key points Bob Harvey, an anti-bullying expert from Dayton, Ohio, will stress at a bullying program for parents at the Pendleton Community Public Library on Saturday.

A Church of Christ minister for more than 20 years, Harvey said he became interested in the issue of bullying because of research his wife did as a guidance counselor for a Dayton-area school system.

There have always been bullies and there has always been conflict between students in school, Harvey said. But several high-profile cases in which victims of bullying have committed suicide have heightened concern about the problem.

“There are two big things that I hit really hard,” Harvey said. “The first is for parents to know their children and steer them to activities that play to their strengths.”

That could be sports, working with their hands, or many of the other activities that kids can learn about and become involved with at school.

The other area is for parents to be in charge of the technology their children use, and to take control of it if conflict and drama appears to be getting out of hand.

“Today’s generation of kids is probably the most connected of all time,” Harvey said. While there are benefits to that, there’s potentially a downside, too.

Before the Internet and smart phones, instances of dealing with bullying stayed at school. Home was a “safe zone,” he said.

Now, with 24-hour access, social media and texting, that’s no longer the case.

Harvey said he experienced with first-hand with his 14-year-old daughter. When she became too involved with teenage drama, he took the phone away, which highlights another point Harvey emphasizes: Parents are still in charge of their kids.

“There is nobody that can police them better than parents,” Harvey said. “It’s not the school’s job and it’s not the state’s job.”

As part of Saturday’s program, Mike Taylor, director of guidance at Pendleton Heights High School, will discuss new bullying policies.

The Indiana General Assembly last year passed legislation that changes the definition of bullying, and requires school districts to compile data and create new reporting and training programs for students and staff.

Last fall, a six-person jury awarded the victim of extreme bullying at Pendleton Heights $50,000 in damages stemming from a bullying incident that occurred in 2008.

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