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'Bully' screening, parents talk highlight Texas Bully Prevention Summit

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
October 28, 2013

David and Tina Long, parents of the late Tyler Long, subject of the acclaimed documentary, "Bully," will be featured speakers during the Texas Bully Prevention Summit Wednesday, Oct. 30 at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos.

The Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University (TxSSC) will host the Texas Bully Prevention Summit 8 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30 at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos. The summit will also host a screening of "Bully," a documentary that goes inside U.S. schools to capture the prevalence and effects of bullying. The film highlights the Long family from Georgia, whose son Tyler tragically took his own life in 2009 after enduring years of bullying.

One of the biggest issues facing students, parents and school officials today is the prevalence and lasting effects of bullying. Incidents of bullying can affect the school environment, the community and most importantly the psychological and emotional wellbeing of young people.

To help highlight the relationship of safe and secure schools to a positive learning environment in which students can thrive, the Texas School Safety Center, College of Education and the Center for Families and Children at Texas State University are sponsoring the state’s first Texas Bully Prevention Summit, said Victoria Calder, director of the TxSSC.

“The¬ Bully Prevention Summit is an exceptional opportunity to receive training on best practices for bullying identification, prevention, reporting and response,” Calder said. “Those who attend this summit will have the unique opportunity to learn specific skills and strategies they can use in their communities and schools to prevent bullying and create safer learning environments for all.

“We all recognize that bullying creates a negative climate for students, staff, parents and the community. Educators and students must work together to prevent bullying in our schools and our communities,” she said. “When we come together as a community to insist that bullying stop, we must all be prepared to identify, prevent, report and recover from incidents of bullying.”

Bullying remains one of the most prevalent and widely discussed topics affecting school safety and security. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that 20.1 percent of students had been bullied on school property and 16.2 percent of students had been electronically bullied (what has now become commonly known as cyberbullying) during the 12 months before the survey. A more recent Associated Press/MTV poll found that 49 percent of teenagers and young adults in the United States in 2013 report incidents of cyberbullying. More than half of them reported the encounter to their parents or to a sibling.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1942 (HB 1942) mandating that schools must make campuses safer for all students, specifically regarding the issues of bullying and cyberbullying.

The Texas Education Code defines bullying as “engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district and that has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student's person or of damage to the student's property; or is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.”

The TxSSC has developed a short video on its website that discusses the key components of HB 1942. To view the video, as well as to review TxSSC resources designed to keep schools safe and secure, visit http://txssc.txstate.edu/topics/bullying/.

The summit is the first of its kind in Texas, designed to inform and empower administrators, educators and school personnel with the skills they need to create safer learning environments for all. The inaugural Texas Bully Prevention Summit is co-sponsored by the TxSSC, College of Education and the Center for Families and Children.

More detail about the summit and registration information is available at http://txssc.txstate.edu/events/bully-summit/.

For more information on the Texas Bully Prevention Summit or the Texas School Safety Center, contact Jo Moss, TxSSC Deputy Director, at (512) 801-6807.