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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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State bullying task force to hold hearing here

Professor Walter Roberts is co-chair of task force.

Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press, 5-5-2012

NORTH MANKATO — Having dedicated his career to putting a stop to bullying, Walter Roberts isn’t surprised by the stories stu­dents have been sharing through­out the state at public sessions hosted by the Governor’s Task Force for the Prevention of Bullying.

But, as co- chair of the task force, Roberts has been encour­aged by the honesty and the quali­ty of the ideas being shared by the students, parents, teachers and other community members.

“These sessions have generated a tremendous amount of good ideas,” said Roberts, a professor of counselor education at Minnesota State University.

Task force members are holding another public listening session Monday at South Central College.

The group is hoping to hear from community members, educators and especially students about solu­tions they have to the ongoing problem of bullying in schools.

The task force was created by Gov. Mark Dayton late last year, and the 15 members were appointed in January. Members include commissioners of the Department of Education and the Department of Human Rights, legislators, and others with experience in psychology, pediatrics and anti-bullying advocacy.

The group’s job is to examine the practices and policies in place to prevent bullying and provide the governor and Legislature with recommendations for changes by August. The group also will study bullying laws in other states and identify effective policies that could be emulated in Minnesota.

With a short timeline, Roberts said the task force members have been eager to hear from the seven communities they’re visiting. “Our purpose in the public comment sessions are to gather information from all concerned citizens with regard to what they believe is working and what they believe is not working,” he said. “The solution to this issue lies within communities. This is about how communities respond.”

Roberts stressed that all surrounding communities are invited to Mankato’s session. Previous sessions were in Bemidji, Rochester and St. Cloud.

The current state antibullying law is only 37 words and doesn’t offer schools much guidance in how to write their own policies.

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