P.S. Jones hosts meeting for Hispanic community

Published 7:17 pm Thursday, March 3, 2016

P.S. Jones Middle School hosted a meeting Tuesday night, reaching out to Spanish-speaking families in Washington.

Led by Deputy Ben Correa from Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, with help from ESL teacher Janet Rodman, the meeting focused on bullying and gang awareness and was presented entirely in Spanish.

“We were targeting our Spanish-speaking population because we have a large Spanish-speaking population in Beaufort County who still doesn’t know or understand who they can contact,” Correa said. “What we have done is basically bridged the gap by doing this presentation.”

Correa, who also participated in meetings like this in 2008 and 2009, said he wanted to tackle the topics of bullying and gangs because many parents still do not know who to contact if they see their child involved in this in any way, and don’t know how to deal with the child’s situation.

“A lot of times kids are not very forthcoming when disclosing everything,” he said. “We do have people in our school systems that are bilingual and can help bridge the gap.”

The meeting also gave families a point of reference for any school-related issues, from buses to lesson plans. The goal was to open the lines of communication and make sure parents know where to turn, according to Correa.

“I think it’s important for any immigrant community to understand the environment and the things to which their children are exposed,” Rodman said. “Children who come from families who speak a different language at home … sometimes run a higher risk of being attracted to things that are negative because there’s no parental awareness.”

Rodman said it’s not a matter of being a good or bad parent, but about knowing the signs to look for in a child in the context of a different culture.

“Parents can be aware and know this is more than their child growing up into a teenager,” she said. “Of course with social media being present, it’s so easy to communicate with negative sources.”

To combat this, parents are also encouraged to keep tabs on their children’s social media activity, even if it might not be the first choice for action, according to Rodman.

“Where you or I might be more forceful with (our) children … Latino parents are less likely to want to make their children unhappy or upset,” she said. “Latino communities are very, very family oriented.”

As exams and summer break loom in the near future, Correa said organizers will wait to see whether another meeting is needed, possibly at another location if needed. He said he’s also hoping that the families who attended Tuesday will spread the word about the resources available.

“They were asking great questions. They were inquiring about specific things,” Correa said. “It was not as big as we expected, but we had a decent turnout.”

For more information, contact Janet Rodman at 252-946-0874 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.