A Jasper attorney with years of experience as an administrator in the Walker County school system was recently a presenter at the World Anti-Bullying Forum held in Dublin, Ireland.
Baker presented excerpts from her book, “Please Do Not Bully Me; I Am Just Like You; Don’t You See,” which was released in 2018.
“Children should be taught empathy in an effort to reduce the bullying problem,” Baker said. “An excellent way to teach empathy is through writing and reading poetry. Children who can feel the pain of others and see the world from another’s perspective or less likely to engage or be involved in bullying behaviors.
“Bullying is a complex problem that requires a multitude of approaches,” she added. “I do believe to eradicate this problem will take a community effort for each community in the State of Alabama and across our nation. Too many children are committing suicide because of their lack of hope and too many parents feel hopeless in coping with this epidemic dilemma.”
The conference was held in Dublin from June 4-6. The goal of the event was to broaden perspectives on understanding bullying, harassment, discrimination, ostracism and other forms of demeaning treatment and violence among youth.
“The forum encouraged the sharing of knowledge and exploring new perspectives from multi-disciplinary approaches and allowed ample opportunity for interaction,” Baker said. “People from all over the world attended. The total number of participants have not been released yet, but there were people from Sweden, Greece, France and Africa.”
Baker said the conference provided many insightful opportunities, especially interacting with experts from across the globe.
“The people I was able to meet and interact with was the highlight for me,” she said. “My credentials opened the door for me. The fact that I had been an administrator in a public school system for years, an author of a researched book on bullying and an attorney opened wide doors for me to talk to some of the most prominent people attending. None of those factors on its own would have been significant but all of those factors combined made me an interesting person.”
Social events and visiting the Irish countryside were also highlights of the trip for Baker, who had never previously traveled to Ireland.
“I took a few extra days to enjoy the area,” she said. “I loved the Irish food and eating in pubs. It was a great experience.”
Editor’s note: The full interview with Johnna Baker is available to watch as the latest DME Meets episode at the Daily Mountain Eagle’s YouTube, which is accessible by visiting mountaineagle.com.