D65, local health center to educate schools on bullying, sexual harassment

Paige Leskin, City Editor

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is partnering with a local health care center to bring behavioral and bullying intervention workshops to students and parents.

After successful workshops last year with sixth graders to discourage bullying, Skokie-based Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center will again bring staff to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School in the fall to meet with students, the center announced Wednesday.

The training in November will teach students at King Lab, 2424 Lake St., about how to think about, identify and manage issues related to both bullying and sexual harassment, Turning Point CEO Ann Fisher Raney said.

“We’re trying to target various kinds of bullying for the ways that students might hurt each other,” Raney said. “Either knowingly or not knowingly … and how they can intervene and stop it, let somebody know, feel stronger about being able to notice, respond and change the situation.”

Along with educating older children in bullying, the center’s staff will also target parents of younger students in how to deal with disruptive behavior, Raney said.

Staff will host workshops through December for parents of students at Oakton Elementary School, 436 Ridge Ave. Training focuses on advocating a “gentle but firm” approach in disciplining children, according to a news release from Turning Point.

“Parents certainly need to support their children’s growth and development,” Raney told The Daily. “We’re always trying to find the least destructive themes or the most constructive themes of resolving issues that come up between people.”

Studies have shown that violence, whether it’s physical, sexual or verbal, is affecting children at a younger and younger age, Raney said. Turning Point wants to ensure that these students feel “empowered” and know how to and where to turn to for help, she said.

The relationship that has developed between District 65 and Turning Point is one that should only continue to grow, Raney said.

“For a community mental health center like ours to partner with the school district is a really, really positive thing for the community,” she said. “I think this community partnership is really critical. We want to do more of it.”

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Twitter: @paigeleskin