Bullying awareness gaining, but more to be done
Wednesday was officially Bullying Awareness Day here in our province, better known to most people as Pink Shirt Day.
I was proud to wear pink and I hope many of you also participated in Pink Shirt Day, showing your support for putting an end to bullying by wearing a pink T-shirt.
The tragic death of Amanda Todd last year reminded all of us of the need to take action. The sad fact is, bullying is pervasive in our society; a recent study found that here in B.C., 62 per cent of those surveyed reported that they suffered from bullying as a child or teenager and 46 per cent of them said this caused lasting damage. Bullying can take many forms, including physical, verbal, peer pressure, and cyber-bullying, and the effect can be devastating. People who are bullied can suffer from lack of confidence, depression, anger management issues, and difficulties in school. In extreme cases, bullying can lead to suicide.
Bullying is not an easy problem to solve; it takes a strong, united effort, and it requires action on several levels. Government, community organizations, school teachers, parents, and youth all have a role to play if we are to succeed in putting an end to bullying. We must all do our part.
Some types of bullying are very difficult to identify and prevent, such as cyber-bullying. That’s why we created the ERASE Bullying (Expect Respect and A Safe Education) program, which provides tools and training to combat bullying. Through the ERASE Bullying website, www.erasebullying.ca, youth can anonymously report bullying, and both youth and parents can access information and other useful resources. The ERASE Bullying program also includes a telephone contact number that youth can call to report bullying anonymously.
In addition, a five-year program which will provide training for over 15,000 teachers and community partners in identifying and preventing bullying has been created; by the end of this school year, every school district in the province will have begun providing this training.
We have also been funding anti-bullying programs run by schools, police agencies, and community groups through proceeds from civil forfeiture. These groups can apply for grants through the civil forfeiture program, and in November our government announced $1 million in grants for anti-bullying programs throughout the province.
While government has an important part to play in putting an end to bullying and funding anti-bullying programs, but local organizations, educators, parents, and youth themselves must also be involved.
That’s why I am moved by the story of Pink Shirt Day, which now symbolizes our fight against bullying. Pink Shirt Day was inspired by the story of a couple of students who stood up for a classmate who was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. They bought a number of pink shirts and convinced other classmates to wear them. Not only did this show of support make the bullied student realize he wasn’t alone, it also showed the bullies that their behavior wasn’t considered acceptable by other students.
In the fight against bullying, we must all do our part; not just on Pink Shirt Day, but every day we see bullying take place.