Bullying doesn’t look like kids being shoved into lockers or calling each other names anymore, and intervention isn’t about just about standing up to bullies in the hallway.
Iowa Safe Schools knows that.
Organizers there also know that children who identify as LGBTQ, or are perceived that way, report instances of bullying almost double that of their heterosexual peers.
On October 4, the Iowa Events Center will host the third annual Iowa Anti-Bullying Symposium. The event targets educators and gives them more resources for what they can do to prevent bullying and support victims.
Mark Busch, the director of education at Iowa Safe Schools, said educators usually get a few days to learn about how to handle bullying, but the work should be more constant.
“It’s not a one and done kind of thing,” he said.
The symposium will feature a number of workshops dedicated to various aspects of bullying and how it affects children’s lives.
Because bullying has changed with the rise of social media, one panel will address cyberbullying and harassment. Another will focus on bullying in extracurricular activities, which are an arena where many incidents of bullying are reported.
Two Des Moines attorneys will also lead discussions. One will be about developing anti-bullying policies for schools and another will cover what legal obligations educators have when they respond to bullying and how courts have ruled on recent bullying cases.
There will also be a workshop, led by Busch, focused on preventing bullying for LGBTQ students by teaching educators how to discuss those issues in elementary classrooms.
“Bullying is all too prevalent in the lives of students,” said Nate Monson, the executive director for Iowa Safe Schools. “Depression, social anxiety, loneliness, chronic absenteeism and academic decline can all be experienced by victims of bullying.”
Another focus of the symposium is how restorative justice can prevent bullying. The goal is to address the harm caused while also building relationships and a sense of community among students in order to prevent further bullying.
Busch said another goal of the symposium is to build off of existing anti-bullying legislation and talk about how to make it stronger.
“The ball’s rolling, the momentum is there, but we have to ensure it continues,” he said. “It’s my hope that participants will get out of it how crucial safety and support is for students to make it to their future goals.”
The symposium will be at the Iowa Events Center on October 4, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. People can register to attend online.
by Nikoel Hytrek