Statewide School Leaders Convene in Morgantown for Bullying Conf - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Statewide School Leaders Convene in Morgantown for Bullying Conference

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MORGANTOWN -

The School Safety Advocacy Council kicked off the West Virginia Regional Council on Bullying Thursday in Morgantown.

A hot button issue, many look at the schools and how they can stop the problem, but sometimes the most important thing said though are the words that parent or teacher say the very moment they learn of the problem.

"It's not their fault," said Sabrina Skidmore, principal at Buckhannon Academy in Upshur County.

Skidmore deals with kids every day and understands the importance of those first comforting words.

"As adults we have coping strategies, and we know how to deal with things, sometimes small children, even older children don't have those strategies yet, so it's very important that the first message you send to the is it's not their fault.," said Skidmore.

Teachers are trained to help students, but friends and family are not always.

But it's that students support staff the School Safety Advocacy Council said may matter most.

"The first thing I would tell them is that 'me and you, just joined teams, we're going to be on the same team,'" said Curt Lavarello, executive director of the School Safety Advocacy Council. "We're going to be able to be partners, work together. I think once they feel like they have a strong support staff, someone is going to be there for them. That's what they need most of all."

Parents are encouraged to look for signs that their kids are being bullied like changes attendance in school and after school activities.

And if you think they are let them try talking it out.

"One of the things parents can let them know is that there child is not alone," said Lavarello. "There are other kids out there being bullied but more importantly we don't want parents going back to old clichés like ‘toughen up' or ‘take it.'"

Skidmore recognizes that bullying has gone on for years, and uses what she saw as a student to help her today.

"I remember some instances of people I knew in school, and I have friend now in their 30's who still are fearful of the school environment because of the bad experiences they had when they were children. So it doesn't just stick with you in third grade or fourth grade, it carries with you your entire life," said Skidmore.

The event continues Friday. For more on how you can help someone affected by bullying visit this website