Combined effort could actually save lives

The Indian River School District (IRSD) and Joshua M. Freeman Foundation will host a special program on Monday, April 16, aimed at parents to discuss bullying and teen suicide prevention. The program, called “The Choice is Yours,” will be held at Sussex Central High School from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

“What we really want to do is create an awarness of what bullying really is, and what students and parents should do,” explained Marilyn Graham, IRSD guidance specialist.

The program will be moderated by national teen motivational speaker Shannon Pickard, and the panel will include IRSD counselors, school resource officers, Delaware Guidance and Delaware Department of School Climate and Discipline.

National news headlines have been filled in recent years with reports of horrific bullying instances and suicides. Graham said that no IRSD students who were attending school at the time have committed suicide, but there have been 12 youth suicides in the state since January alone.

That has to give every parent pause.

We are in a new age of technology that features social media prominently. Kids are often on Web sites like Facebook and Twitter to converse with their friends and share photos, but the sites have also been used to terrorize kids through cyber-bullying and rumor mills. Bullying and rumors have been around since the dawn of time, but now those things can be more public than ever before, and can often seem like the world is coming down on the victim.

With that being said, we are thrilled that the IRSD is taking a proactive approach in this matter and talking with the parents of students in the district. By alerting parents to what to look for and who to reach out to if they see behavior like this occurring, there is a real chance of helping that student who might be feeling like there is nowhere to turn.

And we are equally pleased that the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation is on board with this. The organization has always reached out to the younger demographic in the area through performances at the Bayside stage and by exposing them to the arts, and their commitment to this community is only proven once again here.

Parents, take advantage of this program if you can. Even if your child is not a victim of bullying, chances are he or she knows somebody who might be. It really could help save a life.

For more information on this event, call Marilyn Graham at (302) 436-1000 or Patti Grimes of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation at (302) 436-3003.