Don’t stand by and watch. Stand up to bullying
This week, November 12 to 18, marks the 10th year for Bullying Awareness Week (BAW). A lot has changed in that time. For instance, this year there’s a hashtag on Twitter — #BAW2012 — so people can keep tabs on the related events, information and conversations. However, high-tech social life has also generated an alarming new variation of bullying that is hard to escape. Called cyberbullying, it encompasses everything from toxic texts to the spread of inappropriate images and personal information on social networking sites. This sort of harassment also includes nasty comments, some of which are anonymous, on blogs and websites.
And it has gotten a lot of attention following the death last month of Amanda Todd. The BC teen was stalked online – and blackmailed – and she uploaded a video onto YouTube that detailed her brutal bullying experience. Weeks later, she took her own life. Online and in our own community, we’re all urged to stand up to bullying, stand up for each other, and take a stand to help make it stop. As parents are well aware, Amanda Todd could be anybody’s child.
A collaborative, grassroots annual campaign, Bullying Awareness Week aims to prevent and address bullying through improved awareness and education. You can learn more about it at http://bullyingawarenessweek.org.
“Research has shown us that approximately 15 [percent of the people in] a given population in a school or workplace are directly involved with bullying; that leaves 85 [percent] as potential bystanders or silent majority,” the website notes. BAW encourages that silent majority to speak up. As Bill Belsey, president of Bullying.org and founder of the annual event, has noted, “Bullying is not simply a school issue, it is a broader community health and wellness issue.”
In his words, “For far too long society has seen bullying as a ‘rite of passage’ or a ‘normal’ part of life. Being scared to go to school, being full of anxiety because of a harassing boss or co-workers, or thinking of hurting yourself or others because of bullying is not normal.”
Wondering what you can do? There’s plenty. Start by learning the facts, the signs your child is being bullied and what to do if your child is the bully. Learn how to help your child become confident and what you can do about cyberbullying.
PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) is a national coalition with a commitment to stop bullying. Its online resources for parents include tip sheets, a checklist for school and home, and need-to-know details about bullying as it pertains to young children, kids in elementary school, adolescents, GLBTQ youths and cyberspace. Check www.prevnet.ca for details.