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DES MOINES, Iowa — Educators from across the state met to discuss the issue of bullying prevention and resolution on Thursday.

The second annual Conference on Bullying: Investigation and Resolution hosted at Drake University focused on addressing bullying at the elementary grade level.

Educators, administrators and education graduate students discussed ways to change the environment where bullying thrives, how to investigate bullying and the consequences of the actions.

Dr. Sandra Patton – Imani said teachers must teach students how to empathize with others and to think critically about things outside of their comfort zones.

“Where do they come from? What are their cultural backgrounds? It’s okay to think differently but we have to respect each other in the process,” said Patton – Imani.

Patton – Imani says addressing bullying in grade school prevents it from becoming a bigger issue at the high school level.

“Students who cannot empathize with  kids by the time they get to middle school, I would not wanna say lost cause about any kid, but it’s very very hard to get a middle school kid to start thinking empathy,” said Patton – Imani.

The conference also allowed for the teachers and administrators to share was prevention and resolution methods their districts have in place.

Waterloo School District employee, Mindy Fisher, said, “We now have a google text line that the kids can put in their phones. If they see bullying or see something they are concerned about they can text that hotline.”

Fisher said the distriact lunched the hotline after students voiced they wanted a way to help stop the issue. As a result, the district has seen an increase in reports that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

In February, a massive racially motivated fight broke out at Valley High School. Students say the three fights stemmed from a racist post on social media site, Instagram.

On Thursday the high school will host a public forum on racism. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Valley High School cafeteria.