Taking the bully by the horns
Pivotal community members were invited to an anti-bullying brainstorming session at Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) on Wednesday morning.
The Inclusion Network (IN) hosted the powwow in effort to collectively create programming that will be used in central Minnesota communities to educate residents on how to prevent bullying and how to stop present occurrences of the social pandemic.
"We've asked you here today to help us," said John Heydt, IN member. "You all see bullying through different eyes."
Fourteen people discussed ideas with IN members and developed a community-wide focus for maintaining a sustainable anti-bullying training program. Community conversations, events and training are planned activities. The IN received a $45,000 Otto Bremer Foundation grant to fund the project.
"The word bullying gets thrown around a lot these days," said Shari Maloney, ATCC chief human resources officer and IN member.
Bullying is experienced by children, teens, adults and senior citizens at school, college, in the workplace and in daily life. Attacks can be physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or cyber in nature.
IN member Jennie Hevern said the elderly and those in poverty experience a high level of harassment.
"You get treated differently," Hevern said. "We need to give everyone a fair chance, from the cradle to the grave."
A study by the California Safe Schools Coalition revealed that teachers are less likely to intervene when harassment is sexual, gender or body-size focussed and are more apt to act when the bullying involves race, religion and disabilities.
Judy Backhaus said children are exhibiting bullying behavior as young as age 2 and 3. Backhaus works in human resources for Alexandria School District 206.
Seventy percent of people who were bullied in elementary or high school are also targeted in college. That trend can follow victims throughout their adult lives and infiltrate workplaces. Up to 50 percent of people have been bullied at work; 62 percent of perpetrators are men.
Workplace bullying effects range from absenteeism and low productivity to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"Bullying does present a health risk," said Debra LeDoux, IN member. "A lot of people don't know what they are doing is bullying."
Someplace Safe advocate Susie Trexler said after an Echo Press article (When health affects wealth: Bullying in the workplace) was published on February 20 a man visited with her and revealed he had developed PTSD and was forced into early retirement as a result of bullying.
"Someone has to be the whistleblower," Trexler said.
Once the IN's anti-bullying program curriculum is complete, the organization intends on making it available to schools, businesses, churches and any other group that wishes to offer the training.
Founded in 2003, the IN changed its name in 2012 from the Diversity Resource Action Alliance to the Inclusion Network to become more encompassing and better serve the Alexandria area. The group strives to create a stronger community by promoting diversity, equality and justice of all people.
"We bring communities together to foster respect," Maloney explained.
1 out of 4 teens are bullied
1 out of 5 kids admit to being a bully
9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered students are harassed
8 percent of students will stay home from school to avoid being bullied
43 percent of students fear harassment in school bathrooms
55 percent of college students in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing
58 percent of students have not told their parents they've been bullied
70 percent of students bullied in elementary or high school are also targeted in college
95 percent of students do not report hazing incidents
282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month
Statistics compiled by the Inclusion Network.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.