On Friday May, 12 Okotokians learned how powerful they can be when everyone works together, during the Strong Voices Together Conference at the Best Western Hotel.

The conference focused on bringing men and boys into the conversation and services around the prevention of violence and bullying, and had 5 guest speakers on the topic.

Debbie Posey Town of Okotoks Community Wellness, says taking the time to educate others on what bullying is, and how we can include men and boys in the conversation was the goal.

"Two of our presenters and Anthony Parker, and Tuval Dinner Nafsh with the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters spoke about what are the different types of bullying, what does it look like, and who can take a leadership role, in changing the language and calling people out on that. A lot of times people know they should speak out but they're not sure what that looks like and sometimes it's not just one individual, sometimes you need people to support you in that."

She says men and boys must be more included in conversations around bullying prevention and services before we see real change.

"I think just having the conversations is what is the most important, not accepting that as normal behaviour, or boys will be boys behaviour is important. Bullying is very much a learned behaviour and it seems to be very much an accepted behaviour, like its almost a right of passage that children get bullied. I think that having that narrative change, and having those conversations about what is bullying, what it looks like, and what are the feelings involved is very important."

Posey shares there are tons of resources for anyone who needs support with bullying prevention and services including family school liaison workers, the police, teachers, counsellors, and the town's family resource centre.

Questions, comments, or story ideas? Email us at [email protected]

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