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!

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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.

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!

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

Cyber Bullying and Social Media
Created by: OnlineCounselingDegrees.net

Anti-Bullying Day Flash Mobs 2012 Edition!

Last year, on Anti-Bullying day, David Loyd George Elementary and Churchill Secondary School combined to create a moving and powerful flash mob to bring awareness and understanding to Bullying issues in our schools today.  This amazing video went viral, with over 800,000 views! Everyone was talking about the impact of this flash mob and their video, and how much awareness it brought to this very important issue that effects all of us.  There were pink shirts everywhere and there was people talking about what we can all do to help eradicate bullying wherever it might pop-up.

Well, not to be out-done, but this year, the same group of students and teachers combined with more schools from around the lower-mainland, BC and even New York to create this years Flash Mob!  Please, watch (and share!) this fantastic video that involves more students, more schools, and more people in helping share the knowledge and understanding that if we all work together, in unison, we can defeat the bullies around us!  When is Anti-Bullying day?  Its tomorrow, Feb 29th, 2012!

You can view the video directly on youtube by clicking this link

Also adding to the momentum this year for Anti-bullying day is the Richmond, BC School District, as they combined over 500 students, staff and teachers from the whole district to show their united front against bullying.  Their video was filmed in a local mall, over 3 levels and is a very powerful demonstration of what we can all accomplish by working together to achieve something great!

You can view this video directly on youtube by clicking this link 

 

Also, not to be left out, I’ve just found a third flash mob, this one performed by students from  Reynolds Secondary School, Arbutus Middle School and Cedar Hill Middle School in Victoria, directly in front of the Legislature.  They found a way to work together, in unison to show their support and efforts at eradicating bullying!  Way to go!

You can view this video directly on youtube by clicking this link

Please, watch these videos, share them with your family and friends, and talk about these issues about bullying with everyone you can.  Don’t let bullying go by without intervening and letting the bullies know that you are not “OK” with this!  Stand up for your fellow students, help eradicate bullying and get your dance on!

Jonah’s Video-‘What’s Goin On’- The Raw Response and Reaction to Bullying in Schools

The title of this YouTube video definitely does not mirror the intensity of the emotion and honesty that Jonah Mowry, a young boy who has suffered from bullying, describes in his four minute video, which every student, parent, educator, and administrator should watch. This video starts with Jonah holding up a card and asking the viewer, “ I look happy, right?” and you can tell by Jonah’s facial expression that something is deeply wrong. He then goes on to discuss his emotional and psychological battle with bullying in school in which he shows viewers his scars of cutting himself and honestly admits to trying to take his life, which all began in Grade 1! Jonah openly cries and you can see that he is scared of what is to come in Grade 8 and you cannot help but want to reach through the computer screen and tell this child that everything will be ok. But will it really?

There are thousands of students in the Lower Mainland and around the world who suffer from bullying on a daily basis. Many, much like Jonah, put on a mask that everything is ok, but underneath are dying inside. It is the constant battle of peer acceptance and rejection that has caused students to feel this way. As a society, what can we do to help these children and students who feel this way? There has to be a greater plan or means of intervention for these children who feel that everyone hates them and they have nowhere to turn.

Fortunately, in this video, Jonah writes that he has decided to live his life as it is worth living, but there are many students who just “cannot do this anymore” and cannot live with the pain and torment of bullying and decide to take their own lives. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Ellen DeGeneres have discussed at length the brutality of bullying in schools and Lady Gaga even went as far in an article on November 25th, 2011 on CBC to state that she wanted to work “as hard as I can to make bullying a hate crime”. But when will the school culture change to be the warm, welcoming and accepting place that it should be for all children? When will a child actually feel safe to be at school without being harassed or bullied? There really is not one solution to this massive issue in schools but hopefully, with time, students like Jonah will come to see that no matter what others say, they are special and deserve to be unique and accepted at school and in the world that we all live in.  See our section on Cyber-Bullying if you want to learn more about this important issue, or need to seek help!

Karla Castro December 2011

What’s Going on

Comics can help fight Cyber-Bullying! (Guest Post by Ms Wong)


Raise your hand if you have been bullied in the past.

Raise your hand if you know someone who has been bullied before. 

There is a high chance that either you or someone you know has been bullied.  It can be physical, verbal, emotional, and cyber.
Which type of bullying do you think is the most serious?  ALL of them are serious.  Many people feel that if there are no physical
scars, then it should not be a big deal.  However, many times the bullying escalates.  It is important to tell somebody: a parent,
a teacher, a friend, a counsellor, a family member, etc.  If the person you talk to does not help, go talk to someone until they listen.
We have all been in these situations, so don’t feel like you need to solve your problem alone.  It is much easier if you use the people
around you who support and care for you.

Create your own toon about bullying in order to spread the message of anti-bullying! Log on to http://toonlet.com/ and create an account.
Then, get creative! Afterwards, share your toon on this site!

Guest Post written by Michelle Wong.

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