Bullying is among the most important issues parents face when raising their children. According to stopbullying.gov, nearly 20 percent of students ages 12-18 experience some form of bullying in the United States.

“Parents may be more aware of the consequences of bullying and less aware of how to stop it or how to address it, “says Shannon O’Brien, Executive Director of Children’s Resources, Inc., a San Bernardino nonprofit organization that empowers families to thrive socially and emotionally through parent education seminar and youth programs.

“Parents know that if bullying continues, it puts kids in serious jeopardy—falling behind academically, having emotional problems, depression,” O’Brien adds. “They know the consequences of it, but when they come to our workshops, what they want to know is, ‘How do I nip it in the bud early?’”

Those workshops become a vital lifeline for many parents. Between its Anti-Bullying Workshop series and its Cyber Bullying guide, Children’s Resources aims to provide parents with valuable resources.

“Usually, parents they tell me, ‘Okay, I didn’t know that these were the elements [of bullying], and this is how it operates; now I can catch it whether it’s sibling-on-sibling bullying or friend-on-friend in the community. I can see it when it’s happening and I can stamp it out early on,” O’Brien notes. “We talk about different avenues to address the issue and give parents skills that they can instill in their children for life, like how to set boundaries, and how to boost your child’s self-esteem and confidence.

“This is not just for middle school,” she adds. “These are tools that they can use when they’re 50, 60 years old. Our hope is that they get more out of it than just dealing with the present-day situation. It’s really about setting them up for a much better future.

Recently, Children’s Resources, Inc. received a grant from the Black Equity Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The goal of the fund is to help advance racial equity and to support long-term investments and commitment in Black-led organizations in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. 

“The grant was extremely helpful because during the holidays when the schools aren’t in, there’s a lag between our programs,” O’Brien says. “The grant helped bridge a gap, helping us keep the offices open, and cover our operational expenses while we’re waiting to host more programs in the community.”

Joining forces with her husband, Jason O’Brien, who is president of the organization, the couple launched the nonprofit hoping to create children’s programs at schools, but they discovered that parents needed support, too. Soon enough, they were approached by a local school district official to expand.

That was back in 2007. The couple made a big pivot at that point and began helping parents by offering various workshops, and then working with kids in summer when school was out. 

“Throughout the year we would work with parents and help them with issues related to emotional intelligence, self-esteem, and academic achievement,” O’Brien explains. “We added the anti-bullying series in 2010 because parents were asking for it. They would come to our workshops on the other topics, and on the evaluation feedback forms, they said they would love something on bullying.”

The O’Briens have been at the helm of the valiant nonprofit for about 20 years now. During that time, the organization has provided educational programs and scholarships for Inland Empire students and families.  

Noteworthy initiatives sprouted—from “Bully Proof,” a parent educational workshop for the San Bernardino City Unified School District to offering a Teen Anti-Bullying Leadership Institute in collaboration with the City of Fontana. 

O’Brien also served as the Chairperson of the Sigma Gamma Rho Youth Symposium at Kaiser High School and Wayne Ruble Middle School.

Moving forward, O’Brien notes that she’s about to dive into planning summer youth programs and suggests parents visit the organization’s website for updates. In between, she will continue to offer resources and host various workshops for parents in winter and spring.

“I want people to know that in the coming months, that they can come knock on our door, she shares.

Visit childrensresources.net for more information.

Learn more at iegives.org

This story originally appeared in the Press Enterprise January 2024.

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