Taking an “ounce of prevention” approach to bullying, the Avon Lake School District will be bringing in a popular speaker to talk to students and parents about the effects of cyberbullying through a popular educational theatre speaker.
Armed with a big screen, a pair of jeans, microphone and a solid sense of humor, the enigmatic Josh Gunderson will share tips on how to avoid cyberbullying by injecting humor and true stories into his discussion.
Parents will be able to hear Gunderson Thursday evening at no charge.
“I had him here a few years ago,” Avon Lake High School principal Dr. Joanie Walker said. “He gave a talk few years ago called Hooked on Facebook. He was so well received by students and parents I wanted to bring him back.”
Gunderson will be talking to high school and middle school students during school hours on Feb. 8.
He will host a program for parents on Thursday, Feb. 7 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in room 160 at the high school.
An ounce of prevention
With more than eight years of experience in educational theatre, Gunderson travels throughout the U.S. discussing real-life examples of positive and negative situations within the online world, specifically the detrimental effects of cyberbullying.
“Every day, it seems we hear about incidents of bullying and cyberbullying in particular,” Gunderson said. “With the growing influence of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, it is crucial for students and parents to understand the ramifications of what can happen with just the click of a mouse. Bullying isn’t just happening in the school yard or hallway; it’s happening in cyberspace too.”
Walker said that while the high school does an annual seminar near prom time on alcohol and drug abuse, they also host an anti-bullying program every other year.
“He’s entertaining, fun,” Walker said of Gunderson. He also has credibility, speaking across the country and being featured on NBC news.
Gunderson carries a serious message. Cyberbullying has lead to numerous suicides and can have devastating effects on an individual regardless of their age. And Walker said with the advent of smart phones, students are starting cyber communicating earlier and earlier.
“We have kids at Troy who text, Facebook,” she said. “There’s an interest for us to educate them.”
Gunderson’s visit was paid in part by a grant from the Avon Lake high school, Troy and Learwood PTAs.
Students can “friend” Gunderson on Facebook.
“They on occasion ask for advice,” Walker said.
In conjunction with Gunderson’s cyberbullying presentation, he will also visit local schools in the Avon Lake School District performing “Hooked On Facebook.” This high-energy program shows the pros and cons of the online world in a way that keeps students engaged and entertained, but also has them thinking twice about their digital footprint.
Highlighting areas such as thinking before you post, privacy, online identity, bullying, pictures and sexting, Gunderson uses his own unique brand of comedy to explain the rules for Internet safety.
Check back tomorrow for a Q & A with Gunderson.