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Austin looks to add support group for kids who've been bullied

Members of the group Community Against Bullying were introduced to a new ally at their bimonthly meeting Tuesday night.

Annette Ekoue attended the meeting at Neveln Elementary School in Austin to introduce a new bully support group she is starting with Dr. Mark Kossman.

"We are excited to start a support group for kids in Austin," said Ekoue, a licensed social worker who works on transitions for young people. "Teasing has been going on for a long time, but it has been getting worse and worse. The long term effects are getting worse."

Ekoue said she was excited to keep CAB’s momentum going with the addition of a support group, and give children an outlet to share their experiences and learn how to be assertive. Among the aims of coping skills and heightening self-esteem, the group will promote that kids don’t need to be ashamed of the situations they might find themselves in.

"Make sure kids know that they are important and don’t deserve this," Ekoue said.


Ekoue’s partner Kossman, a licensed psychologist, could not attend the meeting Tuesday night, but CAB member and Neveln principal Dewey Shara was aware of Kossman’s credentials and reputation.

"He was highly regarded in my opinion," Shara said, explaining he was aware of Kossman’s work with the schools in the past.

The support group does come at a cost, but Ekoue said insurance would be accepted. For families without insurance, Ekoue assured CAB that "we’ll make it work for them." Most of the issues discussed with the new support group were logistical in nature, including transportation and how much, or if, schools could refer children and their parents to the group.

Several transportation ideas were discussed, but organizers will have to wait to see who the children are that attending the support group, where they go to school, and other factors. As for referring people to the support group, school involvement will have to be explored further, but CAB will help by putting information on Facebook and in their brochure.

The support group, which is geared toward elementary age kids and looking to begin with six to eight students, will have its first meeting from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 24. Although it sounds like a relatively small number, Ekoue said they would look at possibly expanding to more group sessions and catering to older kids as well. Shara, for one, thinks interest will be high when word gets out.

"I’ve already had parents ask," Shara said. "I am more than confident that you would have so many parents who want it – and need it."

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