Siouxland teen is a voice for bullied students at Governor's Summit
Kayla Weishuhn of Primghar, Iowa was part of a panel discussion at the Governor's Bullying Prevention Summit.
DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) -
More than 1,000 Iowans gathered in Des Moines on Monday to try to put a stop to bullying.
The second Governor's Bullying Prevention Summit focused on a theme of "Mission Possible: Stepping Up the Response."
Governor Terry Branstad brought education officials and experts together to tackle the issue.
Everyone agrees something needs to be done to stop it, but ideas on how to curb the problem vary.
Some at this event suggest change needs to come at the legislative level, while others think administrators and parents need to be more involved with their child's life and what's going on at school.
"Prevention should begin, of course at the home, but today, I don't think we equip our parents with the courage to do that," Director and Assistant Professor of Professional School Counseling Kris Meyer said.
Kris Meyer took part in a panel with Kayla Weishuhn at the summit.
The South O'Brien student from Primghar, Iowa has been an advocate for prevention after she says her brother was a victim of bullying. As a 14 year old high school student, Kenneth Weishuhn took his own life in April 2012.
"You need to understand the students. Parents and adults and school officials, they think they know what school is about, but really you were in high school like 20 years ago, things have totally changed. There's more technology and more access to things" Kayla Weishuhn said.
And, in order to better serve the students, some think new laws should be considered, specifically relating to monitoring Facebook and Twitter.
"With all the bullying that's occurring on social media, that's one area we might want to take a look to see if we can do something to remedy one of the blind spots throughout that," Legal Services Director Matt Carver said.
But, not all agree that additional laws will solve the issue or even help with prevention.
"Laws would keep building the layer of resentment and disconnect," Kris Meyer said.
Kayla Weishuhn thinks harsher punishments should be handed down at the school level when necessary.
"I firmly believe the only way someone is going to learn is that if they know there is a consequence behind it and a lot of people try to use the excuse, 'Well, I have freedom of speech.' Well, I always say with freedom of speech comes responsibility and with responsibility comes consequence," Weishuhn said.
The main message at this summit, take action before it's too late.
Sioux City Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman also attended the Governor's Bullying Prevention Summit.
Gausman was a speaker at the 2012 event, but said this year's event focused on taking action.
"A significant focus this year is on cyberbullying and I really appreciate that because it's so relevant in our time today," Dr. Paul Gausman said.
Gausman said the Sioux City district is still grappling with solutions to handle this kind of bullying since it continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
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