Resources and communication were two themes bouncing around the Centralia High School Library the evening of Sept. 26.
Those were two of the themes discussed by the 14 people there for the third meeting of the Centralia Youth Community Coalition.
They were there, said coordinator Lisa Matthiesen, to focus on ways to improve life for Centralia’s youth.
“We want to help a huge group of kids,” she said. “Young people that just aren’t part of any team.”
Specifically, that night, they focused on mental health resources and bullying.
The group focused on bullying discussed several aspects of the problem.
“A lot of kids don’t have somebody who will stand up and tell them how to cope with bullying, said one attendee. Another agreed, adding: “You try to teach them the ht words to say, the things to do; to walk away, to tell the bullies you don’t like it. . . It’s a hard cycle to get out of.”
Then the conversation turned to electronic devices and social media.
“And this is what makes it worse,” said one parent holding up a cell phone.
“In one minute something hurtful can be spread to 50 people.” And that, she said was the difference between what is happening to children now and previous generations, whose members have sometimes said: “I had to put up with it when I was a kid and I turned out OK.”
Education, and its deliver, was discussed as the key, “We have to get kids to the point where they don’t care what’s being said on social media.”
One parent quoted her daughter saying: “We walk by posters and don’t see them.”
Ideas included a monitoring program and skits by the student service clubs such as STATUS and Key Club.
While discussing mentors for those being bullied, one participant voiced a concern that often when children admit to being bullied, it gets worse.
Regarding mental health, the consensus was there are resources available, but a more effort was needed to inform the public about them.
One coalition member volunteered to start an online document listing Boone County area resources, which would, with the help of another coalition member become a social media and website.
“From here we branch out,” Mathtiesen said, “and eventually pull it all back together for a community resource night for the public.”
The next coalition meeting is tentatively scheduled for, Oct. 24 at Centralia Intermediate School.