A conference to educate the region about the dangers of bullying is set for next week.
The conference, sponsored by the Family Champions, will be held Dec. 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Ivy Terrace, 38 Boyer Ave. A smaller conference will be held Nov. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. for those unable to attend the Dec. 1 event. The conference is open to all Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Clinton, Hamilton, and St. Lawrence County residents.
The goal is to educate parents, teachers, students and anyone involved in the development of a child how bullying can affect a student’s long-term educational goals and development.
The conference is an opportunity to educate the community about the new laws that will take effect in 2012. Speakers will also discuss the long-term effects on a child’s self-esteem as a result of bullying, how schools are currently handling bullying situations, and how bullying affects relationships.
The Dignity for All Students Act, passed in 2010 to protect New York state’s public school students from harassment and bullying, will be going into effect in 2012. Shelly David, Parent Training Coordinator for the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living, will discuss the new law and explain how it will affect students.
“Bullying is a big form of mental abuse that doesn't go away,” said Karen Pioli, conference coordinator and executive director of Family Champions. “Physical hurt, like a cut, that goes away. But things that are said to you and done to you stay there forever.”
Bullying can affect children in many ways. In some cases, according to a study by DealingwithBullies.com, the effects of bullying carry through to adulthood. Bullying can lead to depression, low self-esteem, students cutting class or dropping out of school, and, in more tragic cases, it can lead the victim to attempting or committing suicide.
Guest speaker Tom O’Clair will be speaking about mental effects of bullying and share his personal experiences after his son, Timothy, lost his battle with mental illness and committed suicide.
Timothy O’Clair, the namesake of Timothy’s Law, committed suicide just weeks before his 13th birthday. And the O’Clairs’ insurance company did not cover the mental healthcare treatments they believed Timothy needed.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is currently looking closely at how bullying can lead to what is now being called bullycide, suicide as a result of bullying.
Pioli said the goal for Family Champions is to provide education to the community to advocate the healthiest and happiest life children can achieve.
“Life is too short for children or adults to be unhappy,” Pioli said. “Bullying totally demolishes self-esteem. If they lose their self-esteem as a child, then their self-esteem as an adult will be really gone.”
Speakers of the conference include Tom O’Clair, Kelly Wright, Tracy Killar, Seth McGowen and parents.
Those interested in participating in the conference are asked to register by Nov. 28. For more information or to register for the conference, call 359-9110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.