Nashville conference aims to end bullying - WSMV Channel 4

Nashville conference aims to end bullying

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The issue of bullying is front and center once again after a Miami Dolphins player said he had been bullied by a teammate, and a two-day conference in Nashville aims to put a stop to it.

"This is something that affects all folks, not just children," said Rodger Dinwiddie, president of the International Bullying Prevention Association and CEO of STARS Nashville.

Members of the International Bullying Prevention Association say NFL player Jonathan Martin's troubles with his teammate have helped sound the alarm.

Hundreds converged on the Nashville Sheraton hotel Monday, including Grammy Award winning artist Keb Mo, for the IBPA's 10th annual Anti-Bullying Conference.

"We want to make sure schools do a good job focusing on the social environment," Dinwiddie said. "We want to make sure there's a team to coordinate the efforts in the building and parents are engaged in that process."

To do that, Dinwiddie says everyone needs to buy in, including parents, teachers and students.

"We want to make sure our school is as safe as possible for every student," said Nicki Fields, school counselor at White House Heritage High School.

Fields said technology just makes it too easy to be a bully.

"The online thing, a lot of times kids will say things online that they wouldn't say to someone's face, so that's been a big issue," she said.

One site in particular, Ask.fm, is particularly troubling. Visitors can go on the website and comment about anyone.

"So, put in there, 'Do you think Nicki's ugly?' And then everybody answers," Fields said.

Lizzy Glaser, 16, is a junior at Elkhart Central High School and knows the pain bullying can cause all too well.

"You can hurt someone by just saying, 'Oh, you're too shy,' or, 'Oh, you're in band, look at how much a geek you are.' And it's gonna hurt for years to come," she said.

But through conferences like this, organizers hope to raise awareness and eventually end bullying.

"Don't quit. This is a long-term effort. You've got to be committed to for the long haul," Dinwiddie said.

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