MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A boy being attacked on a school bus is an extreme example of bullying. But to make sure it doesn’t get to this point, teachers and school administrators attended a special summit in Minneapolis.
It started out as a plan to learn more about bullying at schools. But the organizers just couldn’t believe the response. They had so many instructors interested in attending, they had to move to a larger space.
“We see students for a large chunk of the day when they’re interacting with their peers,” said Teresa Vibar, the principal at Highland Park Elementary School in St. Paul.
She brought along a team of teachers to Monday’s sold-out summit on bullying.
“Teachers really felt like there was a need to have a better understanding of how to respond to not only the victims, but the bullies,” said Vibar.
Fred Storti organized the conference for the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association.
“We think it’s important to help school professionals to have strategies, solutions and an evidence based program to work with,” he said.
Storti said there hasn’t really been a rise in the amount of bullying in Minnesota schools. But new media is creating a new awareness.
“Cyber bullying, texting, sexting — those kinds of issues have become certainly a bigger concern,” said Storti.
Vibar says bullying has become a part of regular academics.
“If you think about foreign language,” she said, “it’s best taught at an earlier age. So the sooner they have the vocabulary and the knowledge and the understanding, the sooner they can put it into practice. So it’s helping children discover their voice when they do feel sad or hurt by something that was said or done.”
And Vibar said parents need to take an active role asking their kids about what’s happening at school. Then talking to the school about any concerns.
“The sooner that parents have a sense that something isn’t right at school,” said Vibar, “giving the classroom teacher and administrator a heads up will go a long way in helping us reduce, if not eliminate, bullying in our schools.”
Joan Gilbertson, Producer