Parents invited to program on bullying, suicide
IRSD, charitable group host Monday event
It’s not easy being a teenager, much less the parent of one. The Indian River School District and Joshua M. Freeman Foundation will aim to help lessen that challenge this week by hosting a special program for parents, titled “The Choice is Yours,” to discuss bullying and teen suicide prevention.
The panel discussion will include “what every parent should know” about bullying, social media, peer pressure and youth suicide on Monday, April 16, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Sussex Central High School.
“What we really want to do is create an awareness of what bullying really is and what students and parents should do,” said Marilyn Graham, IRSD guidance specialist.
Parents can learn to help their children report bullying, who in the school can help, what resources are available and what the district and State are doing to address bullying and suicide prevention.
Ultimately, Graham encouraged students to talk about their problems, so they can begin to work through the issue.
“Bullying and suicide prevention cannot be secrets. They need to be discussed,” said Patti Grimes, executive director for the Freeman Foundation. “Hopefully, this will open up that conversation.”
Moderated by national teen motivational speaker, Shannon Pickard, the panel will include IRSD counselors, school resource officers, Delaware Guidance and Delaware Department of School Climate and Discipline.
Bullying and youth suicides have risen to the forefront of news media in recent years. Although Graham said no IRSD students who were attending school at the time have committed suicide, statewide, there have been 12 youth suicides in Delaware since January alone.
“I know students are talking about it,” said Graham. “So we want to address it. We want to be proactive.”
Panel moderator Pickard will also present student assemblies during the day at Indian River and Sussex Central high schools. The young comedian/motivational speaker tackles tough issues facing youth, including depression, substance abuse, bullying and more. Through high-energy comedy, student involvement and inspirational stories, Pickard encourages good choices and career and college readiness.
“We want to instill in our young people a sense of hope and making good choices,” said Graham. “He’s going to come in and present the information in an energetic and powerful way, while delivering powerful messages of hope.”
The April 16 parent program is open to any community members and to parents of students of all ages. There will be a question-and-answer session, and door prizes will be awarded. All programs and prizes are sponsored by the Freeman Foundation.
The Indian River School District and Freeman Foundation staffs expressed gratitude for their partnership and opportunity to reach students and parents district-wide.
“I think that the panelists are going to give a lot of good information, and I think [parents] will be pleased if they come,” said Graham.
For more information, contact Marilyn Graham of IRSD at (302) 436-1000, or Patti Grimes of the Freeman Foundation at (302) 436-3003.