Kennetha Stevens Takes the Stand Against Bullying

By Nora Heston Tarte

SUSD Parent Empowerment Coordinator talks bullying at district-wide parent trainings

When parents at Stockton Unified School District brought forward their concerns about bullying, staff didn’t hesitate to put a plan into action.

“When we hear the voices of our parents… we want to move it along because if it’s a right now concern we want to address the concern right now,” says Kennetha Stevens, parent empowerment coordinator at SUSD.

It took two months for Stevens and her colleagues to morph parent concerns into a parent training class held at both the school and district levels. It became part of SUSD’s parent involvement platform, a three-year-old initiative that offers 27 parent training topics each year. The bullying trainings have been a part of the program for two years.

“We really want parents to be engaged and aware,” Kennetha says. “Schools can’t do it alone. It must be coupled with what’s happening in the home.”

Not only do the training sessions allow parents to voice their concerns about bullying, it provides them a way to take action. Parents learn how to detect a problem, how to determine if a scenario classifies as bullying, and what channels to use to confront the issue.

“As a parent you want to be protective,” Kennetha observes. However, it’s important parents do not approach other students or their guardians alone. Instead, counselors can help mediate a successful conversation.

Kennetha says so many times parents come to the trainings and discuss conflict, not bullying, and they don’t realize the difference. They don’t know what bullying looks like, especially in the digital age.

“When we talk about bullying we’re talking about a progression of behavior or an imbalance of power,” Kennetha says. “Bullying means everyday I see you there is an issue.”
Conflict, on the other hand, is a standalone event.

Bullying at SUSD doesn’t wear one mask.

“I think we see things, you know, with teenage girls,” Kennetha says. Girls who fight over boys or call each other nasty names over social media.

Studies have shown that the most common types of bullying are verbal and social bullying, and that bullying is most common amongst middle school students (StopBullying.gov).

Usually bullying represents an internal conflict. A child doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to start bullying another student for no reason. There’s a change in behavior that parents, if trained, can see. And it could prevent the bullying from starting or progressing.

“This training provides parents with understanding,” Kennetha explains. “I think most of the parents who actually come are parents who want to be aware, parents who are actively engaged in their student’s education.”

Bully incidents at SUSD have plummeted over the past three years. As of last spring, bullying was not among the top three social concerns of students, according to a student leadership survey of both elementary and high school students. Three years ago it was the number one concern.

Event Details:
Anti-Bullying Parent Training
March
At Stockton Unified School District, 701 N. Madison St.
For more Information, call (209) 933-7000

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