The Elk Grove group “Parents of Bullied Kids” held their first meeting last night at Moore’s Karate in Elk Grove. The group was formed a few weeks ago by parent Lili Devaney who was frustrated with how the Elk Grove school district responded to bullying incidents involving her son. Devaney and other parents spoke at a recent school district board meeting, sharing their stories about bullying in the district. The common theme from those who spoke was that they felt like the district and schools were not addressing the issue of bullying.
As a result of that meeting, Devaney decided to continue her advocacy for bullied kids by forming the Facebook group, Parents of Bullied Kids. Parents of bullied children are encouraged to join the group and share their stories and talk to other parents who have been through the same thing.
Last night’s meeting was the first for the group. There were 3 speakers for the event. Kevin Bracy with the Reach One Alliance, is a motivational speaker that has held rallies at all the middle schools in the district. He spoke of how kids can help other kids by including them and reaching out. Their motto is “each one, reach one”. He discussed how his program went from being one of anti-bullying to something positive by reinforcing bringing about change in a positive way.
JJ’s Hello Foundation was the second speaker. The Anderson family spoke about their son “JJ”, who took his own life last year at the age of 12. Suicide is the second highest cause of death for teen and young adults. Second only to auto accidents. The Andersons talked about the signs of mental illness among teens and what to look for. Like most parents they were not aware of the signs until it was too late. Their goal is to bring awareness to teen mental health issues. Their son JJ was not bullied at the time he took his life, but many kids who do are bullied.
The final speaker was Susie Gauchi with the Yuba-Sutter Chapter of Stand For The Silent. She shared the story of her daughter that was bullied and the journey that her family went through. The group works with local schools to speak to kids about standing up for those who are being bullied and working to help bullies in a positive way to prevent it from happening. She told the audience that in the last 7 years, 55,000 teenagers have taken their own lives. Many as a result of bullying. Bullying can be physical, mental or involve cyber-bullying through use of social media. This type of bullying is higher among teenage girls.
Lili Devaney shared the emotional story of what her son and family went through that led her to become an advocate for bullied kids and create the Elk Grove group. Her son was told he should kill himself and that no one cared about him. That is a common theme among bullies to tell their victims.
The Elk Grove Unified School District is in the process of implementing a new program at school called PBIS, Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports. There are brochures and videos on the website. The program will train administrators and teachers, and eventually students on using positive behaviors at school and dealing with bullying, by helping the victim and the bully.
If you missed last night’s meeting, most of it was recorded on the Elk Grove Laguna Forums Facebook page