Grandparents can learn tips and tools to protect their grandchildren from bullying at the second annual Grandparents Conference on Saturday.
Children are more likely to confide in their grandparents than their parents, especially when they are experiencing turmoil, said event coordinator Nancy Ensor of the Carroll County Bureau of Aging and Disabilities,.
During the conference, grandparents will learn tips to deal with different types of bullying, warning signs and cyberbullying — as well as sexting and online sexual predators. Sexting is sending sexually explicit messages, photos or videos between mobile phones.
"If you read the papers and listen to the news, you see what's going on with bullying," Ensor said. "These are our children, and we need to protect them."
A lot of grandparents are raising their grandchildren, Ensor said, and some children are bullied because they do not have a traditional family.
Carroll County is a community where generations of families stay in the area said conference speaker Jillian Millison, a school counselor at Winfield Elementary School. She said this helps a lot of grandparents play active roles in their grandchildren's lives.
In recognition of Grandparents Month, the free event is scheduled for Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Westminster Senior Center. Registration is required.
Millison will speak to grandparents about the warning signs and physical and emotional consequences of bullying. Those signs include children's complaining of illnesses or making excuses not to go to school. Other signs include children coming home with scratches, bruises or damaged school supplies and not giving a good reason for what happened, Millison said.
Patricia Ryan, director of the Carroll County Mediation Center, will be equipping grandparents with strategies to talk to their grandchildren about bullying and dealing with it.
Children often think they are not being bullied, Ryan said, but rather, they perceive peers as just being mean.
"The difference would be: Does the person being bullied feel like they are being harassed and have no other options?" Ryan asked. "There's also a level of persistence with bullying. It's not an isolated event."
One of the best things grandparents, or parents, can do to help their children deal with bullying is discuss the topic with them often.
Former Howard County Police officer Bruce Lohr will discuss cyberbulling, sexting and sexual predators. Many seniors are more computer savvy, Lohr said, and it's important for them to teach kids that while there are positives to the Internet, there are also many negatives.
"We need to warn your kids about what they put on the Internet and understand once you put it out there, you can't take it back once its in cyberspace," said Lohr, a crime prevention specialist with the Maryland Community Crime Prevention Institute.
Times staff writer Jon Kelvey contributed to this article.
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If you go
What: The 2014 Grandparents Conference
When: Saturday, Sept. 20; on-site registration starts at 8:30 a.m. Program runs 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: The Westminster Senior Center, 124 Stoner Ave.
More info: To register call 410-386-3833. A light breakfast will be served.