Acceptance – PinkShirt Day February 27, 2013

ACCEPTANCE!

Coming up this week, onpinkshirtday February 27, 2013, is Anti-bullying day, where we can all take a stand,  show our support and Acceptance for everyone in our schools, community, neighbourhood and life! This day is about ACCEPTANCE, and to be who we are, without fear of being judged, bullied, picked on, or excluded.  No one should be bullied by anyone, and they should be accepted as they are, as our Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects us, here in Canada.

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Back in 2007, in Nova Scotia, a Grade 9 boy wore a pink shirt to school one day.  He was ridiculed, harassed, called names, and bullied by other students at the school.  They called him a homosexual, and they made his life very difficult and completely unfair.  This sparked a response from other students in the school, who rallied around this boy, all coming to school the next day wearing Pink Shirts in solidarity.  It does not matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, how you look, talk, or act is, it matters who you are, and who you Accept in your life!  We should Accept everyone as they are, and to demonstrate this Acceptance and inclusion, many schools in Vancouver, BC, gathered together recently to create a Flash Mob to show the emotion and power of a large group of passionate people working together to promote Acceptance!

This video highlights that when we all come together, we can make massive changes in the way we treat each other.  We can Accept people as they are, and treat them with respect, caring, and friendship.  We don’t need to judge or put others down to make ourselves feel better.  We can commit to making others feel better by sharing stories of good people, helping others, caring for each other and to include people in our communities, groups and classes.

This lesson and movement is especially important online!  Using social media allows us to connect with ever wider groups and communities online.  It allows us to reach out, and to share with the whole world if we want to.  We need  to claim this online space to make sure it is safe and Accepting as well!  We need to commit to making our online tools and communities more friendly, accepting and free of bullying.  We need to demonstrate positive interactions, telling people nice things, ignoring mean people and mean things online.  Call out bullying when you see it.  Don’t stand by, letting the bully ruin someone else’s life.  Stand up where and when you see any bullying and fight it with caring, positive and friendly advice.  IF we ALL do our PART, bullying could be stopped forever!

Finally, I recommend you watch a very powerful Poem, To This Day Project - by Shane Koyczan a poem about the impacts and struggles that everyone who’s ever been bullied can go through.  This powerful story will tell you why it is so much more hurtful and harmful than you can ever imagine.

So, this year, on this day, Feb 27th, 2013, PLEASE COMMIT to changing the way you interact with everyone in your life, online or not.  Tell people nice things.  Include people in what you’re doing.  Call out bullying and reach a hand out to those you see getting bullied.  Put on your Pink Shirt and begin ACCEPTING everyone in your life for who they are.  It’s the right thing to do!

Social Smarts: Privacy, the Internet and YOU! (Graphic Novel)

socialsmarts

 Recently, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada released a very helpful Graphic Novel that outlines how you can be safe on the internet, using social media and still maintain your privacy!  This graphic novel outlines the potential pitfalls, risks and behaviour online that is not safe, and should be avoided at all costs!  The graphic novel, “Social Smarts: Privacy, the Internet and YOU!” can be downloaded as a PDF document, or you can visit their site to watch a video, or look at other resources like teaching guidebooks for educators and parents!  Some of the best tips from this graphic novel are:

  • Locking down your social media accounts so that only pre-approved real-life friends can see your information and activity
  • Be aware of when other people might be taking your photo, and ask them to not post it online, or tag you in any photos. (be sure to look at your settings and dis-allow anyone to ‘tag’ you)
  • Don’t “leave yourself logged in” to any computers, or smartphones that don’t have a password.  Anyone can use the computer/smartphone to pretend to be you!  Always have a password on your smartphone and never “remember my password”!
  • When playing games online, don’t share personal information over your headset, you are speaking to anyone else in the game and they can hear everything you say!
  • Remember that all your activity online, when you “like” something, or your “check-in” some place, this information is collected and stored by companies to profile you and sell you things!
  • If you are using some network or service online that is free, you must remember that you are not a customer, you are a product and are being used by the company or service to make money!
  • Remember that its OK to turn off your smartphone, or step away from the computer to make connections in real-life and to talk and build relationships with the people around you all day long!

Please, watch this excellent video below to learn more, and to check out the Graphic Novel as soon as you can!

SafeBook – How to be Safe on Facebook Infographic

How do you stay safe on Facebook, and other Social Media sites?  This is an essential question that many are asking, hoping to avoid cyber-bullying, identity theft and loss of privacy.  Yesterday, I found this excellent infographic that simply explains some of the key attitudes and behaviours that everyone should use when setting up and interacting on Facebook.  The infographic was designed by Fuzion, a marketing and PR design company that wanted to help educate students on how to use Facebook safely and easily.

Safebook%20-%20online%20guidelines

The Fuzion team have provided this excellent infographic that clearly outlines the best practices and usage of a social media tools like Facebook, with insightful advice, helpful settings, and excellent strategies for dealing with bullies!  They also have some strong advice for parents and teachers, and how they can be involved to help make Facebook and Social Media safer and friendlier for everyone.  There specific advice for parents is:

We owe it to our kids to show them how to:

  • Set up their personal accounts properly

  • Maintain their privacy settings

  • Connect with “friends” safely

  • Think about what they post

  • Post appropriately

  • Spot and deal with inappropriate behaviour

  • “Unfriend” and Block certain users

  • Report Bullying

If you would like to use this poster in your classroom, and to share with your students, parents and wider community, please, visit this page here, as they have a larger PDF version you can print out.  Thanks Fuzion for this wonderful tool that can help educate and make Facebook Safebook!

Making sure you #care when you #share

Recently, on twitter, many BC educators were discussing how to effectivily use Social Media to encourage students, teachers, parents, and everyone else to show more empathy and caring when networking, connecting, sharing and discussing online.  Too often, social media allows others to be mean, or to be inappropriate, to cut others down, rather than building them up.

It started as a conversation between Chris Wejr (@ChrisWejr) and Carolyn Durley (@okmbio) and quickly others jumped in to add their thoughts and ideas and a new hashtag idea came from Michelle Hiebert (@MauiMickey) to start using #CARE  as a hashtag when tweeting to others to show that you #care when you #share.

#care when you #share

By using #care when you tweet (or even facebook) you can demonstrate that you are encouraging positive, empathetic usage of Social Media.  You are committing to demonstrating friendly, positive interactions online where there are no put-downs or bullying, or mean-spirited debate.  You are committing to making the online social media space as friendly and welcoming as you can.  When we all take a little time to interject some posititivity, some friendliness, some caring and some empathy, it helps spread the good vibes and helps everyone feel that they belong.

So please, take a little time to tweet or share something nice about someone special to you, or even a newly connected member of your social network.  Let them know that you #care and that before you #share anything online, you think about its impacts and if it will help those around you!  If we all commit to #care when we #share, the world can become a lot nicer for everyone!

How can we all help to end Bullying? (Cyber or Not!)

Please see this cbc news  article to learn the heartbreaking story of Amanda, a young woman whose bullying tragically led to her taking her own life.

I, like many of you, have been very upset with the news of Amanda’s passing.   She struggled with horrible, inexcuseable bullying, and she took her own life rather than face her tormentors anymore.  She tried changing schools, she tried making new friends, yet, her bullies followed her online and continued to make her life a living hell.  What did Amanda do to deserve any of this?  Nothing.  No student ever deserves any of these attacks, nor insults, nor mental and physical abuse.    Amanda wanted to live her life, to enjoy this world, to make friends and to feel good about herself.  Why would any student want to take that away from her?  How could this have gone on for so long and led to such a tragic ending?  What can we do to help end this so no one else has to go through what Amanda has?

We all need to step up and confront bullying WHENEVER and WHEREVER we see it.  If you see someone bullying someone else in the hallway or the street, STAND UP.  Tell them its not ok!  If you see the same bullying done online, STAND UP, help them, confront the bully and let them know it is NOT OK to bully anyone else.  We can’t turn a blind eye, we can’t just tell them to “Stick up for yourself”.  We need to all come together and really STAND UP when we see bullying.  It is not something we should condone, or allow to happen in our presence, online or offline!

PARENTS and EDUCATORS:

We need to role-model and monitor our students, not just in school, but out of school.  There is a saying that many people are familiar with, that “it takes a whole village to raise a child”.  We all have a role to play in guiding and monitoring our students and children, and it needs to happen wherever we are!  We cannot standby and abdicate the online world and let students run around without any guidance, supervision, or role-models online.  We need to be online with our students and our children.  We need to stop and confront students and children when they are misbehaving!  We have no problem doing this in shared public spaces like malls, libraries, or other community centers.  Why do we not do the same online, in Social Media?  Why do students have free reign to privately do whatever they want on Facebook and other social networks?  Why do parents avoid connecting with their children online?  Why are teachers so afraid of role-modelling appropriate citizenship in online environments?  If we, as parents and educators don’t teach students how to behave well in these online (and offline) environments who will?

If you are a PARENT:

  • befriend your child on Facebook and other Social Networks. Use your account to keep an eye on their activities.  Would you let your child take your car without first going over all the safety information and rules, and lots of practice with you, in the car?  Why would online social media be any different?
  •  Ask them to signin in front of you, show you what they’ve been doing and saying online.  Demonstrate to your children what friendly, respectful behaviour looks like online.  Talk to them about what you are seeing in their “news feed” that is innapropriate, or dangerous!  Communicate often about whats happening in their own social networks.
  • talk to your children about the permanent nature of anything online and how anything they put online will be there forever!  There is no ‘delete’ on the internet!
  • Ask your child if they have been bullied online.  Talk about resources and strategies that they can do to help it stop!  (see the Cyber-bullying page)

If you are an EDUCATOR:

  • There is no question, you need to be involved in new social media tools as a professional.  Its time for you to become familiar with these environments. If you saw bullying in the schoolyard, you would stop it immediately. If you saw bullying at your local mall, or dairy queen, you would stop it immediately.  Educators NEED to be online with students.  We have an obligation to teach proper behaviour no matter what the environment.  To pretend its not our place is to abandon our most needy students.  The ones that have no one to stick up for them. If Educators cannot lead the way on proper social media usage, who will?  We cannot let students have a private club online with no adult supervision. We are starting to see the results of our abdication so far.
  • This does not mean we need to cross personal boundaries.  Consider setting up a professional Facebook account for interacting with students.  Use it to role-model and to supervise.  Let students know that they have adults in their social network. They are not hidden away anymore.  They have to be responsible for their online activity.
  • Use Social Media in your classes!  Students need a safe, supervised environment in order to learn!  We need to create these safe spaces online that encourage respectful, polite and friendly connections.  Students need feedback on their behaviour to learn.  Students need instruction on what is appropriate or not.  Students need discpline when they cross the line.  We can’t continue pretending that students are not on these tools, or are invisible when online.  We need to teach them.

If we all seriously look at social media and online environments as extensions to our communities, not seperate spaces, we can begin to demonstrate safe, responsible and respectful usage of these new tools.  If we don’t take the time to learn and teach students and children how to interact online without bullying, we will have so many more problems in the future.

Amanda, I’m so sorry we all let you down.  I will think of you and your experience often, and I hope that your legacy will amount to a genuine change in how we teach children and students how to be better citizens, online or offline.  We will all miss you Amanda.

CBC’s BullyProof

This week (May 28-June 1, 2012) one of the shows on CBC, “Connect with Mark Kelley” is exploring Bullying in schools and the impacts it has on students. The show, which runs each night this week, will profile the experiences of students who have been bullied, as well as how they cope, or overcome their bullying.  It is a chance to explore what is working, what is not working and how we can make schools safe for all students!  Below is the trailer showing the concept of the week’s themes:

This unfortunate and extremely challenging experience that too many of our students endure and have to go through must stop, and this program will explore ideas and suggestions from students themselves who have couragously have shared their stories and suggestions on a video wall:

Stop A Bully! Canada-wide anti-bullying program!

http://www.stopabully.ca

I wanted to profile an amazing anti-bullying resource that is available to help any student who is a victim of bullying, any student that witnesses another student getting bullied, and any school that needs help addressing bullying in their school!  This website, while Canadian, offers a lot of extra resources, links, helpful advice, real contacts for students getting bullied and how to MAKE IT STOP!  Anyone can report bullying (cyber, or face to face) anonymously to this website and they will follow up on anything reported to them, by getting in contact with your school.  Their mission statement is:

STOP A BULLY strives to promote and enhance social wellness among youth by empowering them to address bullying. STOP A BULLY is committed to providing any student, parent or educator opportunity to report bullying and cyberbullying in a safe and anonymous manner by giving them an effective online reporting system. STOP A BULLY aims to enhance and foster a schools ability to address bullying incidents in a proactive and timely manner by providing detailed reports of bullying incidents, as well as education and prevention strategies.

They provide many services and resources to help any student, parent or educator dealing with bullies and the effect of bullying in their schools.  They can provide:

  •  safe and anonymous reporting of bullying
  • help understand what bullying is and what it might look like
  • assist schools to become proactive in preventing bullying from even starting
  • encourage and engage students in helping fight bullying at their own schools
  • provide anti-bullying materials for any school that would want them
  • are available to help ANY Canadian student who might be experiencing bullying and needs help.

Another service Stop A Bully provides is to help understand what bullying can look like and the many forms it comes in.  They have created this graphic that shows how many different ways bullying occurs.

So, please, take a few moments to check out this fantastic website and hopefully, if we all work together to understand bullying, what it is, what it looks like and how we can avoid it, one day we won’t have to report bullies anymore as they will have become extinct!

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