Conference Aims to Stem Bullying, Tragedies - 8 News NOW

Conference Aims to Stem Bullying, Tragedies

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LAS VEGAS -- Administrators from around the country are in Las Vegas this week for the annual National Safety Response Conference.

Active shooter response, dealing with tragic events and bullying were all discussed Thursday.

More than a discussion, the conference, being held at the Excalibur casino, is designed as a way for schools to learn about new methods to keep everyone safe on campus.

Deadly mass shootings, such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month, have many in the United States thinking about school safety.

Amanda Klinger of the Educator's Safety Network spoke about new methods being introduced. She said that when schools are threatened, they go into lockdown, leaving students helpless against an intruder.

A new tactic is known as barricading, a lesson learned from a previous tragedy.

"In Virginia Tech (shooting), the attacker tried to enter a number of different rooms in the building that he attacked," Klinger said. "(In) one room, the students in that classroom took all the furniture in that classroom and pushed it up against the door."

Klinger said that simple act bought those students time, saving many lives.

"You don't have to make that room an impenetrable fortress, you just need to delay, detour, and defend," she said.

The conference is also training educators on how to bridge gaps within schools when it comes to dealing with the consequences of a tragedy, such as a student death or murder.

Mike Markowitz, co-founder of Crisis Oriented Planning and Educational Services, or COPES, said more support is needed to help students feel comfortable talking about loss.

"I feel like there are a lot of opportunities to be much more organized and structured and coordinated when these types of events take place," he said.

Another hot issue continues to be bullying, a problem that has become harder to spot because of social media.

"Often older people think of bullying as a thug male who wants to push somebody around, but today a bully can be a 10-year-old girl," said Rick Phillips of Community Matters.

He said students need to be encouraged to speak up because many times students are the key to stopping bullying before it ends in tragedy.

According to Community Matters, many of these suggestions don't require school districts to spend large amounts of money.

The group said it understands budgets are tight and offer tips that any district can implement.

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