The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 17, 2013

Students to hear anti-bullying speaker


GEORGETOWN — Jerry Ackerman, a student motivational speaker from Indianapolis, will talk to Georgetown-Ridge Farm and Westville students and their parents on Wednesday about how to prevent bullying.

Both school districts worked together to bring the anti-bullying presentation to their students and parents. The program is being funded by federal Title I money.

“This is something we’ve never tried before,” said Eva Cornwell, Georgetown-Ridge Farm School District’s Title I director. “We’re combining our (Title I) funds.”

Ackerman will talk about bullying with students in fifth through 12th grades at both school districts during the day on Wednesday.

“Obviously, the topic is something we need to keep in the forefront,” Cornwell said. “We’re hoping the kids will be energized by the presentation and will tell their parents about it.”

That night, a free dinner will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. for families of both districts at Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School. No reservations are required, and parents are encouraged to attend.

At 6 p.m., Ackerman will make a presentation to parents. The presentation is expected to last about one hour and will cover topics such as the two things kids need from parents; why bullying is getting worse and what to do about it; knowing your child’s relationship with technology, their friends and you; the three characteristics of a family with backbone; and best apps to use, startling statistics and more.

Ackerman and his family eat as many meals together as possible, allowing them to talk about each other’s day. He said many families aren’t doing that.

“I think some parents are afraid to communicate with their kids because they want to be their friends,” Ackerman says on his website. “You brought them into this world; you need to help them get through this world and not just be an advocate for what they’re doing.”

He said the only way for parents to have quality time with their kids is to have “quantity time.” Ackerman claims the more involved parents are with their children, the more likely they will be to prevent bullying.

Ackerman believes adolescents suffer from bullying more often than any other demographic. Children struggling with their own insecurities tend to pick on others to elevate themselves, he said.

Nearly 160,000 U.S. children skip school due to fear of being bullied each year, according to his website.

“Text bullying is huge. Outside of verbal bullying, it’s the biggest way people bully,” he said. “It’s easy to do; it’s anonymous. It is hard to detect as far as who sent it.”

Ackerman will appear at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday at Westville High School to speak to high school and junior high students and staff members in the district.

At 9:45 a.m., Ackerman will talk to fifth- and sixth-grade students from both districts at Judith Giacoma Elementary School in Westville.

In the afternoon, Ackerman will speak from 12:30-1:30 p.m. with junior high and high school students and staff members at Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School.