Opinion

Stop the bullies

Bullying is an ugly word and despicable act. Canada has introduced a new cyber bullying law but my just-turned-six grand daughter experienced the old fashioned kind over the Christmas holidays during a five-day course.

In B.C. we are fortunate to have stringent requirements to protect us in the food and beverage sector where “Food Safe” and “Serve It Right” courses are mandatory for preparation and serving public and institutional meals and alcoholic drinks.

Not so with bullying. Last I looked, a school in Port Hardy is the only one on the Island to be registered with the StopaBully.ca program established in 2009 without cost to schools who care to enroll.

For parents and teachers there is a four-hour, online “Beyond the Hurt” program offered by the Red Cross (redcross.ca/BullyPreventionOnline) which addresses violence, bullying and abuse prevention. The RCMP also have presentations for schools.

But what about courses, workshops or camps offered for children?  I am adamant that those individuals, companies or government recreation departments be trained in preventing bullying as well as how to deal with it, both for the ‘victim’ and the perpetrator.

Many of us have experienced aggressors in our midst, perhaps even suffering verbal abuse and physical assaults, threats of and actual confinement or illegal restraint as children or adults.

Of course many threats are cleverly disguised as jokes, teasing or the famous “just kidding” when confronted, but by then the psychological damage could have occurred, innocence lost, sometimes resulting in unusual, unexplainable ‘acting out’ behaviour after the damage is done.

It always seems that it is the younger, shy or smaller children who are the targets and are wounded, suffering a loss to their self esteem or embarking on a fear based childhood, not being able to trust nor ask for help due to that fear or shame.

Somehow our community must protect one another and teach the tools to deal with bullying before a bully escalates their behaviour or another person, young or old, gets hurt and suffers in silence or worse.

I am writing all this because my beautiful grand daughter was debriefed at home and reassured that it wouldn’t happen again if she went in the next day.

Gord Byers

Parksville

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