Ladysmith Intermediate School hosts interactive cyber bullying workshop March 6

The first in a series of Safe Schools/Safe Community workshops will take place Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m.

Exactly one week after Pink Shirt Day, Ladysmith schools, the RCMP and the school district’s safe schools co-ordinator are inviting the community to get together and take a hard look at cyber bullying.

Ladysmith Intermediate School is hosting a series of Safe Schools/Safe Community workshops, starting with a cyber bullying workshop Wednesday, March 6 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the school.

The session will include an interactive question and answer period. Child minding will be provided.

Cathal Walsh, principal of Ladysmith Intermediate School, will be leading this first workshop, along with Tom Piros, School District 68’s safe schools coordinator. The evening will be part presentation, part question and answer.

“Hopefully, it will be a positive, open dialogue with citizens in the community,” said Walsh. “It’s an opportunity for us to say, ‘as a school, this is what we are doing, but these are the challenges we are facing, and this is what you can do as a business.’ The idea is we get some input from parents and give some strategies out as well.”

Walsh says adults can’t just ignore the fact that young children have Facebook accounts and can access videos on YouTube these days.

“We need some parameters for how kids access technology,” he said. “Our role is to help teach them how to use technology in the appropriate way.”

Walsh says there has been an issue in the community with students from different schools where the uploading of video to YouTube caused some grief for the people involved, but this workshop is more of an attempt to be proactive in dealing with a growing concern than a response to an incident.

“The reality is it’s ongoing,” he said. “Kids have more access to technology more and more at a younger age. It really presents a challenge in that way with the monitoring of it. Kids can be getting bullied, and the person bullying them isn’t even at school; they’re at home sick on their Facebook page.”

“We know there’s a concept of closed and open schools when it comes to these issues,” added Walsh. “In a closed school, the problem is not reported and not talked about, and there is no response. Hopefully, more schools have been moving away from that. But then you have the other end of the spectrum where things are too open. The balance is to share good information and keep people safe but do so in a way that’s responsible. I think that’s really important with kids at this age. We’ll discuss that balance of open communication and respecting boundaries around sharing information privacy [at the workshop].”

More Safe Schools/Safe Community workshops will take place in the months ahead, focusing on addressing school and community concerns, such as youth suicide prevention, gang affiliation and vandalism.

To pre-register for next week’s workshop, e-mail Cathal Walsh at cathal.walsh@sd68.bc.ca, sign up for the event online or call the school at 250-245-3351.