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Online Programs Grad Organizes Conference to Point Spotlight on Bullying and Teen Suicide

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“There are 160,000 students who will not attend school today out of fear of being bullied. The psychosocial aspects of being a victim of bullying ranges from depression and anxiety to substance and alcohol abuse to suicide.” – Terry Driskill

Terry Driskill, MA, MA, LPC is a licensed professional counselor who practices in Louisiana. He’s working toward a Doctor of Education in Counseling Psychology at Argosy University, Online Programs with a dissertation focused on the topic of bullying. To spread the word about bullying prevention and teen suicide, Terry is organizing the Blake Sims Louisiana Conference on Bullying and Teen Suicide, to be held on February 9, 2017 at the Hilton Garden Inn in West Monroe, Louisiana. . Terry completed a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University, Online Programs in 2013.

With National Bullying Prevention Month winding down, we recently caught up with Terry to talk about the conference and how his work can help people to better understand the problems of bullying and teen suicide.

Why did you decide to focus your dissertation on the topic of bullying?

I became interested in studying bullying after the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999. At that time, the shooters were thought to have been bullied during school because of their gothic clothing. I wanted to know if school shootings had a relationship with bullying. Some will say bullying has no causal relationship with school shootings, but [I believe there is a] relationship between school shooters and bullying.

In a Birth Cohort study in Finland, a group of children were followed from birth to age 24. At age eight, these children were interviewed, along with parents and teachers. The study showed that a child who was bullied at age eight is more likely do be an offender at the age of 24. This is an area of future research, to find out if there is a direct relationship between bullying and school shooters.

What have you found in your research that’s surprised you?

It surprised me that girls are becoming more physical in bullying. Normally, the boys [engage in] physical aspects of hitting, pushing, shoving, and other physical acts. The girls are known mostly for “relational bullying” through social media and cell phones. The trend seems to be moving towards increased physical bullying for females.

Why did you decide to plan this conference?

The conference is named after my cousin, Blake Sims, who was a Louisiana educator in a small rural parish. He was a teacher, principal, and coach for over 30 years. His son was an educator and coach and his daughter, Kristy Sims Curry, is the head ladies basketball coach at the University of Alabama. His wife, Ann, was also a teacher and coach in the same rural school district.

The professionals coming in for the conference are [experts in the field].

· Dr. Sue Limber is from Clemson University and her special area is bullying and legal matters

· Dr. Charisse Nixon is from The Pennsylvania State University and her special area is resilience and relationships in bullying behaviors. Dr. Nixon is the co-author a national survey with 13,000 students.

· Stan Davis is a retired school counselor, has over 30 years of studying bullying behaviors, and was the co-author of the national survey with Dr. Nixon.

· Maureen Underwood, a licensed clinical social worker who has spoken nationally and internationally on teen suicide. This is the “A” team in bullying and teen suicide in America. I will have a web site going live this week in which to register. There are plans for a National Conference on Bullying and Teen Suicide in 2018.

Do you have any tips for bullying prevention?

· In my research there have been a few common denominators for bullying prevention.

· There have to be clear rules in the school on aggressive behaviors such as bullying.

· There has to be clear boundaries within the school, home and community so kids know what unacceptable behaviors is.

· Parents need to spend quality time with their children talking about rules and boundaries in the home. The child needs to know it is safe to talk with mother/and/or father about what happens at school. Keep communication open.

· The school staff has to take bullying behavior serious because the psychological outcomes of bullying are serious.

· The school staff and others who have direct contact with children need to have training on recognition, intervention, and prevention of bullying in the school. The external components such as security cameras, metal detectors and zero tolerance does not work.

· The community needs to be educated on bullying and how to detect it and intervene.

· Everyone who has contact with students daily should be and need to be involved in preventing bullying.

Why the sudden spotlight on bullying? Is this a new phenemonon?

Bullying is not a new-found behavior. It was cited as early as 1530, but the systematic research on bullying did not start until the 1970’s in Sweden, when Dr. Dan Olweus conducted the first research on bullying behavior at the request of the Swedish government. This request was made when three boys committed suicide as a result of bullying over a long time frame.

Bullying is recognized by the Centers of Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and academia. It’s defined as a serious aggressive behavior that is repeated over time with the intention of causing bodily or psychological harm to a child who is smaller in stature, with an imbalance of power between the bully and victim.

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Benefits of Tutoring: How to know if Your Child can Benefit from a Tutor

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For many parents, slipping grades and missed assignments can be sure signs that their child is in need of help academically. And whether your child needs assistance to get up to speed with the rest of the class or is looking for help to get ahead on their SAT’s, there are a variety of tutoring options available.

Signs Your Child May Need a Tutor

“Keep the lines of communication open with your child’s school,” recommends Amanda Bates, an English teacher and coordinator of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead, Calif. “If your child seems to be struggling, reach out to his/her teacher and have a frank discussion about what you’re seeing at home and what they experience with your child in class to determine the areas your child needs help in and what the best course of action may be.”

“The drop of a single letter grade, diminishing enthusiasm about school or complaints that school is ‘too hard’ can all be signs that your student is dreading a particular class or subject,” says Adriene White, center director for Sylvan Learning – Long Beach. “The issues they are having can be clues that they need help with time management and study skills, test preparation or with a particular academic subject.”

“If your child is spending excessive amounts of time on homework, it could be a sign that he or she doesn’t understand the skill or concept needed to complete that homework,” says Dr. Dominick P. Ferello a professor at Argosy University, Tampa. “If your child is laboring over words when reading out loud and can’t retell the story they just read in their own words, your child likely needs help with reading.”

Tutoring Programs, Companies, & Other Options

“There is a range of tutoring options available to parents,” says Bates. “For some students, there may be a volunteer or specialist at the school who can assist with their needs. For those who may need help outside of the classroom, your child’s school or school district should be able to provide you with a list of private tutors and tutoring centers that can provide more in-depth assistance for your child outside of the school day.”

“The right tutor can make all the difference in the world when it comes to improving your child’s academic success,” says Ferello.

“Whether you seek out an individual tutor, or look into a tutoring service, the qualities you need to look for are the same,” says White. “First and foremost, the tutor should be properly trained in teaching to the individual. It’s also a fact that tutors who receive intensive and continuous training are more effective than tutors who don’t. Inquire about a tutor’s experience, credentials and specialties. Get references. Ask those other parents how the tutor performed.”

“Look for a tutor who does an assessment to help them understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses,” says Ferello. “Knowing where to start and what to focus on saves critical time when a child already is falling behind. Ongoing assessments throughout the course of your child’s tutoring also allow the instruction to be fine-tuned and personalized to your child’s specific individual needs.

“A good tutor builds a rapport with their student,” says Ferello. “Learning takes place when your child is comfortable with his tutor and when you are comfortable with the approach they are taking.”

“Remember that a tutor doesn’t remove you as a parent from the learning process,” says Bates. “Stay involved, set goals for the tutoring experience and check in on your child’s progress. Once you’ve reached your goals, keep an eye on your child’s studies to make sure they stay on track academically.”

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Tips for How to Succeed in Online Classes – Don’t Forget to Reward Yourself

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Argosy University, Online Programs provides the benefit of 24/7 access to virtual classrooms. You can study when you have time, and you have a community of other online students to help you through challenges. But what can you do to keep yourself motivated and moving forward when you’re not in front of the computer? Fastweb’s Madison Sheldrake recently published strategies for succeeding in online courses, and the long and short of it is—you need to stay focused and remember to commend yourself for a job well done.

A quick overview of the article’s tips for taking online classes include:

· Familiarizing yourself with the program and its requirements

  • Creating a schedule
  • Reward the small successes
  • Reading instructions early
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Make your textbook your new best friend
  • Celebrate your accomplishment

It seems that one of the biggest stumbles an online student can make is to complete background “homework” before class even starts. Take the time to learn about your program and classes and what is expected of you. Practice using the online system—the better you understand it, the more efficient you’ll be when you use it. And review big picture items. Are there any requirements outside of the virtual classroom? Anything you need to complete before the class even starts? Are there long-term projects that you need to start now even though they aren’t due until the end of the semester?

Once you read through the course syllabus, take the time to plot out what is due and when. Plot out times each day when you will study and include them on your calendar. And include times when you give yourself a little “well done” bonus for accomplishing your course goals. This can be something as small as an ice cream sundae, but it will motivate you to do well and stay on track.

The Fastweb article does give one tip that may seem a bit “old school”—using textbooks to help with research. Because some online courses refer directly to a particular class textbook, finding applicable or matching information online can be difficult—or impossible. Information that is contained in one chapter of a class-required textbook may be spread over many online sites. Use your time efficiently and refer to the class textbook when needed.

After you’ve checked off your list of accomplished goals—including not procrastinating on assignments—it’s time for a real treat. Not just ice cream, but something more substantial that truly celebrates the work you’ve done. This reward system not only encourages you now, but can keep you going into the future as you pursue additional classes.

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