May 27 01:59 AM

Seminar aims to stop Bullying!

Parents, teachers, community members to meet to address behavior issues

February 03, 2010
TRI-CITY AREA — An incident at a Lapeer high school is prompting one group to take a look at bullying and other abusive behavior in an effort to minimize incidents in schools.

The Lapeer County Equal Rights Alliance is hosting a free program on bullying, hazing and harassment from 6-9 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 24 at the Lapeer Center Building. Snacks and beverages will be provided, reservations are required by Feb. 18.

Gale Crooks of Lapeer County Equal Rights Alliance says the seminar's aim is to increase knowledge and provide a venue for sharing, discussion and problem solving.

"Anti-bullying is an important issue, though it's not a new issue regarding the rights of people to be able to go to school or walk down the streets without being assaulted or abused in any way," Crooks says. "It's an issue that people sometimes neglect or don't put enough focus on."

Though the details of the alleged December incident at Lapeer East High School aren't known, six students remain on indefinite suspension from school. Crooks says regardless of what happened, there is work to be done in terms of prevention and intervention.

"We don't know what happened and there's not much we can do about that," Crooks says. "But we certainly can look and see right away that there are issues of knowledge, how to act, how to intervene and how to make things better for the future."

The group hopes parents, teachers and community members as a whole will attend to learn more about bullying and related behavior.

It's an issue of "paramount importance," says program facilitator Jim Toy, MSW.

A liaison for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network), Toy recently retired as Diversity Coordinator for the Office of Institutional Equity at the University of Michigan.

Upcoming seminar will focus on identifying and intervening in bullying and related behavior.
Bullying and related behaviors can occur anywhere, Toy says—schools, the workplace and even the family home. That's why it's important to learn about prevention and intervention.

"Everyone needs to live in security," he says. "Our youth are at particular risk and deserve a safe climate in which to learn and grow."

Toy says 'grounds' for bullying include race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression and appearance.

Disabilities, economic class and religious and political issues can also perpetrate bullying.

"The strong assaulting the weak on no specific basis is as well a common event that may be defined as bullying," Toy adds.

Along with bullying, Toy will address hazing and 'bystander behavior' and its motives.

"What are the motives for non-intervention and how may we have been engaged in that behavior and perhaps intervene from afar," he says.

He'll also address the physical and psychological damage caused by bullying, hazing and harassment, and provide tools to deal with a variety of situations.

"Can bullying ever be stopped everywhere for all time, no." he says. "But we can do our best to intervene when it occurs and to prevent the occurrence."

Toy has a master's degree in clinical social work from U of M, where he as a field instructor and as a member of the Multicultural and Gender Affairs Committee.

He has been engaged in clinical work and community organizations which advocate for human and civil rights. Toy is a member of local, statewide, and national secular and religious social-justice entities.

To reserve a seat for the Feb. 24 seminar email Crooks at or leave a message at 810-793-7229.

Along with snacks and beverages, attendees will receive educational pamphlets and related literature.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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