“If we can make a difference to one kid’s life, then it’ll have been worthwhile.”
The benefits, no matter how small, of shining the spotlight on social media bullying is not lost on Byron Stevens.
And with a free double-header workshop and presentation on the hot topic in December and January, Stevens, Richmond District Parents Association (RDPA) president, is hoping that bright light intensifies by way of arming people with knowledge.
The RDPA and the Richmond School District have teamed up to sponsor a two-part series for parents to learn more about the dangers of social media and strategies to keep their children safe.
It all kicks off next week, Dec. 5 at MacNeill secondary, with “Lets Talk About Your Child & the Realities of Online Media,” presented by renowned speaker on the subject — Jesse Miller.
“About 300 have signed up already, the gym hall holds about 600 and we’re hoping to pack it out,” said Stevens.
“It’s not exclusively for parents; students who express an interest are also very welcome.”
Social media bullying is still very much in the public eye right now, added Stevens, referring to the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Amanda Todd.
“We thought this was a perfect time to do this,” he said.
“The province has come out with its plan to tackle bullying, Richmond is very much on it and there was a story in the Vancouver Sun recently, although I wish the people had come to us first, before going to the newspapers.
“We tackle bullying every year at the association, but this year, we thought we’d make a bigger deal of it.”
Stevens said the workshops — the second one is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 8 at the RDPA general meeting at 7 p.m. at the school board offices — will enable parents to help their kids understand the pitfalls of social media.
“Our focus is on the parents, so that’s why we teamed up with the school district, which has a firmer focus on the kids,” he said.
Stevens is pleased to get someone in of the caliber of Miller, who has a vast array of experience on the relatively new issue of online bullying.
Prior to speaking at the Annual Learning and the Brain Conference in Richmond in the spring, Miller, who specializes in social media education and awareness, told the News about the dangers of the Internet for teenagers.
“The reality is that once something is posted on Facebook, it opens the door for anyone on the Internet to see it,” Miller said back in April.
“Some kids have a false sense of security on social media, and I like to tell kids, don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in public.”
He said the best approach parents can use is to arm their children and teens with social media knowledge.
The first workshop runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 5. To register, email email@example.com.