Acceptance – PinkShirt Day February 27, 2013


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)


 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!

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!


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!

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!

CyberBullying – “Are Jerks the Future of the Internet?”

Cyber Bullying and Social Media
Created by:

Repost of Student’s perspective on Bullying.

Below is a repost of the BUZZ’s most popular post, from Anti-Bullying day last year.  Please, read, share and act to help stop BULLYING whereever it might be!

As today is “Wear Pink” day in order to bring more awareness to Bullying and Cyber-Bullying, I thought it would be valuable and important to hear about these issues from a Student’s Perspective.  Rebecca Gorgitza, a student with the Vancouver Learning Network wrote this Guest Blog Post for the BUZZ to share her feelings, suggestions, advice and experiences with Bullying.  This powerful piece of writing is straight from the heart and I encourage you to share this far and wide today, to raise awareness about this important issue. LETS ERADICATE BULLYING TOGETHER!

Hello bloggers!

Now, you all know its Anti-Bully day (I know you know because I can see all the pink shirts through my computer!), and I hope you realize what it means.  Think about it, if you will.  To me, Anti-bully day isn’t just a day for everyone to be nice to each other; it’s a step towards a total change for the better.  It’s just a taste of just how nice being nice can be, if that makes sense.  Getting along with each other is a lot easier than you’d think.  The thing is bullying isn’t just the stereotypical mean kid making rude comments when you pass in the halls.  It’s a lot more than that- it’s even on the web…. And it can be much worse when you’re being cyber-bullied rather than bullied in real life. (Key word, can) Cyber-bullying is like bullying in person, except it can be taken too far, too fast, and without much notice from anyone except for the kid being bullied.  It’s little things like harsh comments on statuses, or nasty chat messages on facebook or big things like constant outright rude comments on pieces of art on deviantart.  I honestly don’t know what goes through cyberbullies heads’ when they do such things, but I wish I could understand.  I do know, however, the effects of it.  It takes away confidence, tears away self-esteem, makes you feel worthless.  Makes you ask yourself “am I so unlovable and worthless that they have to attack me over the internet!?” (The answer to that question is always no, you are not unlovable or worthless) It makes you want to fight back, but when you do, you realize you can’t win, so you give up.  It puts you in a Slump (yes, just the like one Dr. Seuss talks about in Oh The Places You’ll Go).  Now, my recommendation for you to get out of that Slump is to have an epiphany.  Unfortunately, not even Walmart sells those, so maybe you should tell someone about the trouble you’re having.  Now, if you’re like me, you’ll have a few teachers who don’t seem to care too much.  Avoid them.  Go to your counselor (they became counselors because they wanted to help!  They’ll definitely care.), or that really nice, motherly teacher.  Or tell your parents, though that can be a bit harder to do since most parents are totally over protective, and you, being a teenager, don’t want to make a big deal about it.  Maybe you’re really shy about it…. In that case you can start by saying something like:
“So, hypothetically, if someone was getting cyber-bullied,what should they do?”
“I have this ‘friend’… he/she’s getting cyber-bullied.  What should this ‘friend’ do?”
Then, progress to talking about yourself. The most important things you, a student, need to know are that a) the bully will probably not stop “just ‘cause.” Remember, there are “Report Abuse”, “Flag” and “Block” buttons which may start to solve your problem! And b) The only way you are guaranteed to get help is by telling someone who cares.   Oh, and if you have a friend who is being cyber-bullied/bullied and they tell you about it…. Don’t just say “oh”.  Please, please don’t.  Stand up for them.  Tell them they’re amazing.  Help them- it’s your responsibility as a friend.
Now, to the edumacators and ‘rents:


It happens too often, and it’s sad.  I don’t care whether it’s cyber-bullying, bullying, or issues that don’t have a single cause.  Help the kid.  You may not know exactly when a kid is being cyber-bullied/bullied, and you may not be able to stand up for them… but thinking about it from their point of view, helping them, talking to them, giving them ideas and positive escapes from the stress and hurt is a lot better than doing nothing.
If you would like to learn more about “Pink Shirt Day” please check out this CBC news article about the two young men from Nova Scotia who stood up to bullies and created this North American movement!
Also, be sure to check out our own “Cyber-Bullying” Page here @ THE BUZZ as we have many tips, resources and places for help if you or anyone you know is suffering from Bullying or Cyber-Bullying.  If you are an educator looking for a powerpoint presentation to use with your class, be sure to check this one out from our Planning 1o Teacher Brenda Kvist! Anti-Bullying
Happy Pink Shirt Day!
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