Justin Sweatman of Jamestown and a few other Tennessee Tech University students are trying to make life a bit easier for children in public schools.
With the help of fellow TTU student Shayne Bilbrey, alumna Kendra Crisp-White and a small team of other students, the junior sociology major has been planning an anti-bullying conference to take place on campus Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 21-22.
Featuring workshops, guest speakers and updates on anti-bullying policies and legislation, Sweatman said he hopes the conference will encourage parents, educators and students to work together to prevent bullying and to help children succeed regardless of race, disability, social class or sexual orientation.
“Students who feel endangered in schools don't succeed; it’s that simple,” he said. “Ultimately, our goal is to change the social norms in schools to provide a nurturing learning environment.”
The conference is free and open to the public, although registration is required. So far, more than 100 people have signed up to attend from as far away as West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama.
Tennessee’s deputy commissioner of education, Kathleen Airhart, and the deputy director of the Southern California ACLU, James Gilliam, are the keynote speakers. Their talks will begin and end Saturday’s session, bracketing workshops about suicide prevention, dating violence prevention, bully prevention in elementary schools, bullying from the pulpit and many others.
“I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve sat around and talked about how ‘something has to be done’ to stop the bullying epidemic,” Sweatman said. “When I was approached with the idea for the conference five months ago, I realized this was our chance to actually do that something.”
TTU’s Student Government Association is co-sponsoring the conference.
For more information or to register, visit www.bullyfreetn.org.