By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The upcoming Mississippi Kids Count summit in Jackson will highlight a hot topic in both education and child welfare today: bullying.
“This year marks the fifth annual Mississippi Kids Count Summit and promises to be our best summit yet,” Linda Southward, Mississippi Kids Count director, said. “To be sure, professionals, parents, teachers, providers and other who are interested in or work with youth will not want to miss the opportunity to hear these speakers and to also learn from Mississippi’s own success story winners, individuals and groups who are working selflessly to promote the safety of Mississippi’s children, families and communities throughout Mississippi.”
Mississippi Kids Count, based at Mississippi State University, is in charge of compiling and publishing data on child wellness in Mississippi. The organization publishes an annual data book used by organizations all over the state. The 2012 data book will focus on child safety with an emphasis on transportation, school safety, environmental safety and child abuse and neglect. All summit participants will receive a copy.
Rachel Simmons, author of “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls,” will be featured as a speaker for not only the adults, but will also have a session with the youth delegates who have been selected to attend by their schools. Simmons traveled around the country conducting research for the book and spent several months in a rural Mississippi town exploring cruelty between girls.
Merve Lapus, an educational program manager for Common Sense Media, will give a presentation titled “Safe, Smart and Responsible in a 24/7 Media World.” Lapus works with educational stakeholders to recognize both the opportunities and the dangers that come with a digital world.
Starkville native Jasmine Murray will speak with youth delegates and perform during the summit. Murray is a communications major at Mississippi State University and was a finalist on Season Eight of American Idol.
Southward said she believes the speakers will help start a dialogue on the challenges of bullying and misuse of social media.
The summit will be held at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3. There is a $55 registration fee which covers a continental breakfast, networking luncheon, the data book and access to all sessions. Educators may earn continuing education credits for attending.
To register, visit http://www.ssrc.msstate.edu/mskidscount .