A town hall meeting was held on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART) auditorium in Clovis. Hosted by KMPH Fox26 News, the meeting tackled the subject of bullying in and out of schools.
The meeting was also streamed live with a panel of three anti-bullying professionals, a student, and news anchor Kim Stephens as the moderator. Audiences watching the live stream were able to text questions for the panel to discuss.
The panel consisted of Shari Tolbert, mental health support provider for CUSD; Amanda Nugent Divine, CEO for Kings View Behavioral Health Corporation; Taylor Cordoba, senior at Clovis North High School president of Mental Health Awareness Club; and Christina Valdez-Roup, Executive Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. All are passionate advocates on bully prevention.
Most of the panel have had first hand experience with being a victim of bullying. The drive for more awareness and programs to combat this issue, stems from a personal understanding.
Over the course of the meeting there were many different questions asked about bullying. Topics that were covered include, coping mechanism, bullying at work, coaches being bullies, how to know if your child is being bullied, and parents taking more responsibility.
Although, according to stopbullying.gov and other research sites there has been a decrease in bullying. Maybe due to more preventive programs, attention, and education on trying to end bullying.
Though in today’s world, bullying can come in many different forms. Kids are now faced with being scrutinized online through social media.
“There is a new way to shame and ridicule people, it happens very fast, in a very vast manner, so it’s a new world in the way bullying takes place,” Nugent Divine said.
The panel discusses the pressures of social media and portraying life as picture perfect. Making it harder for some to talk about what is really going on behind the screen.
Opening up about being a victim of bullying takes vulnerability. The stigma about reaching out and asking for help makes it hard. “we do need to start breaking down those walls and they do start within us,” Valdez-Roup said.
One of the many questions asked was, how do you stop bullying if its happening at home? The panel discussed the importance of not labeling a child a bully.
“We don’t want them to think they can not change and become something else. We want them to know they can become something else,” Nugent Divine said.
There are a number of reasons why someone may engage in bullying behavior. “A lot of individuals or kids that bully will tell you why,” Nugent Divine said.
One of the last topics talked about was how to tell if your child is being bullied, how do you know and what do you do? The panel went over important signs that could indicate if a child is a victim of bullying.
It is an ongoing issue happening in schools, but with discussions like these it can bring awareness of how to deal with ways to prevent bullying.