Elkhart Community Schools Parent Coalition hosts forum on bullying prevention, child safety

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 11:55 AM EST
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - The Elkhart Community Schools Parent Coalition for Bully Prevention and Mental Health hosted its third Community Culture Awareness Forum on Thursday night.

“A lot of times, people don’t know what to do, they don’t know who to turn to,” said Aaron Ball, a member of the ECS Parent Coalition, CEO of Rio’s Rainbow, and Father of Rio Allred, the 12-year-old North Side Middle School Student that took her own life last year due to bullying.

The forum was aimed at bringing stakeholders together to discuss ways to create a safe community as it specifically relates to child safety, bullying prevention, and mental health. The first forum took place back in December.

“By having these forums, we provide many providers in our community who can answer some of these questions and make it face forward and readily available for everyone to have all in one night,” Ball said.

Thursday night’s forum at the Elkhart High School Freshman Division (formerly Elkhart Central High School), was the first of the three forums to be entirely led by parents who are hoping to get to a point where they can work together with administrators and staff to create a healthier and safer environment for children in the district.

“I have two kids in school, a 13 and an 11-year-old. My daughter was the subject of bullying for about four or five months,” said Aaron Bauman, another member of the ECS Parent Coalition, “Any of our children could be a part of this, and we need to work with other parents to understand where our children are and to correct the issues before they become bigger problems.”

Parents told 16 News Now that they could have just taken their children out of the district, they’d rather try to make a difference in their community.

“I think ultimately at the end of the day, what really makes a difference is that regardless of where our children go, for the most part, they still need to learn how to handle and be a good human to other people,” Bauman said.

The group spent the night brainstorming ideas like paying attention to state legislation, and working together to help victims, as well as bullies, hoping to provide the right assistance, resources, and teachings, so that no other student has to go through what Rio endured.

“We want all of our kids and parents and community members to know that it’s okay to speak your piece and jump in feet first to try and help alleviate some of these issues, because one more Rio is too many,” Ball said.

For more information about the coalition, visit the group’s Facebook page.

If you missed the forum, you can watch it by clicking on the video below:

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