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PTA convention focuses on fighting bullying

May 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
This year's California PTA convention is under way in Anaheim, and this year, there's a renewed effort to fight bullying.

PTA members wanting to learn more about preventing bullying watched a play. In it, Jacob and Danielle - once close friends - were at odds after he took her journal, setting off a chain of events that would lead to Danielle's thoughts of suicide.

"It's a very difficult thing to see your kid suffer through that kind of issue," said Pattsi Goclowski, PTA president at Landell Elementary School.

Goclowski says her three sons have been bullied in the past, and she'd like to see prevention programs start as early as elementary school.

"Kindergartners are already able to bully each other even at such a young age," she said.

Experts say nearly 60 percent of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.

The California PTA convention has drawn more than 3,000 teachers and parents to Anaheim. PTA members say the problem of bullying is one of the biggest safety issues they're dealing with.

"It's not just, 'Oh kids will be kids.' There's a real understanding of the impact that it can have, how kids stay home from school when they don't feel safe, when they feel bullied," said Patty Scripter, California PTA director of legislation.

This week, the California PTA was awarded the national advocacy award, recognizing it as the No. 1 PTA in the U.S. for its advocacy work against bullying. It sponsored a bill to require educators to undergo anti-bullying training and to provide information to parents and students.

Experts say parents need to know who their children are involved with.

"Be really aware of what they're doing online and on their cellphones between texting and Twittering and posting on Facebook," Scripter said.

And make sure kids have an adult they can turn to if someone's threatening them.

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