We are now day 7 into Bullying Awareness Week – a vision first started 10 years ago by a teacher in Calgary by the name of Bill Belset after a series of terrible school shootings took place (and were later linked to childhood bullying). Over the last decade, his message of bringing an end to bullying has spanned the entire globe, bringing in support and events all over the World. 1 week dedicated to bringing attention to something horrible… doesn’t sound like much, does it? And yet while news media all over the planet announce this week as the official Bullying Awareness Week (it even has its own Hashtag, #BAW2011, on Twitter), I have not yet seen a single News outlet in BC announce it, or even mention it. Are the news stations so oblivious to the fact that bullying takes place in our Province, the same as everywhere else? Are they blind to the problems that kids face? or are they just brainwashed into thinking that Occupy Vancouver is a more important issue? Maybe a bunch of people living in tents at the art gallery, drinking and doing drugs in public while they declare that they no longer recognize the authority of the police and fire department when it suits their purposes (right up until someone overdoses on-site) are more newsworthy than kids killing themselves to escape the torment they are put through at school and in their neighbourhoods. Oh sure, a bullying victim kills themselves and the news jumps on it for a few days, crying about how if only something could have been done, or if only we knew sooner, or how can bullying be allowed to get to this point.
And then nothing. Right back to the Occupies, or Kardashians, or what celebrity got caught in a hot tub with someone that’s obviously not his wife.
I am by far not a major person in the Social Media scene. I prefer to be behind the scenes, making sure that our sites are running well, and watching other people talk. But occasionally I want to get a message out. I have 105 followers on Twitter. For the past two weeks, I have asked numerous times that people pass the word along about this week, and about a specific bullying case that I am directly involved in. Of that 105 people, only 8 people actually helped to spread that word. A special thanks to Shawn Doyle and Patrick Gallagher for doing what they can to help, you two are awesome. On Facebook, I have 153 “friends”. How many there have helped to spread the message? 5. Mind you, the past 2 months have helped me to see how many of those 153 people are actually friends.
How desensitized are people that they can’t send 1 single message over the course of an entire year to bring attention to the problem of bullying? Are they too busy with their Farmville’s and Youtube spamming and 50,000 posts about your dog and how cute it is when said dog has a bowel movement (the number is exaggerated, the topic is not)? Maybe they just buy into the saying that bullying is just a part of growing up. Yep, getting punched in the back of the head while walking to class is a requirement of growing up. So is standing in a hallway while someone holds your arms behind your back and two people take turns using you as a punching bag. Or sitting at your desk trying to actually focus on your work (a shocker while in School) while kids behind you occupy their time by throwing things at you all class long. All part of growing up, right? WRONG. Why is society so desensitized to bullying that they are ready to jump up and actively support it, pushing the victims to the side in the process? Did you know that if a bully assaults a child, and that child fights back, the child that was bullied can face school suspension for defending himself? And not just suspension, but actual assault charges. Read the rest of this entry »
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What the Hell is wrong with the World? When I went to school, “bullies” were a dime a dozen… some kid always wanted to try to look tougher than he actually was, by pushing around the small kid. Nothing makes you look like more of a man than picking on a defenseless kid who is just trying to go from day to day the best way they know how, huh?
On Saturday in Ontario, an extremely talented young man killed himself. He could skate, he could sing, he could act, he had friends and a family that loved him. He also had kids around him who were verbally abusive towards him constantly. Why? Because they thought that his being gay was reason enough for him to be a target of verbal bullying. Will the kids who called him a “fag” feel guilty for their part in his life coming to a sudden end? Likely not, they will try to appease their consciences by saying that it was the medication he was on, or he just wasn’t right in the head. The reality though, is that even when thinking the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, those words do actually hurt. It is in human nature to want to belong. Most don’t give a second thought to the idea that pushing these people away with hurtful insults and name-calling can cause long-term lasting damage, but the truth is that it can and does. The story I reference above about Jamie Hubley is proof of that. He kept an online journal of his final month, if further evidence is needed. Even a simple Google search for the words “bully suicide” returns over twenty million results.
Friends of Tami are going through another horrifying case of bullying. Their son has been the target of bullies for some time now, both verbally and physically. Recently the father caught sight of one of the bullies on top of his son in his own front yard. Being the loving father figure he is, he approached the group and removed the bully from his son. He never once hit the bully (something I myself would not be able to say if I were in that position), and for coming to the defense of his son he was charged with assault. Really. Assault, for removing a bully off his own son on his own property. they are now facing escalating legal bills, losing their home, and having to pack up everything they own and leaving the city they live in. Why? Because the courts have decided that they are not there to defend the victim anymore, but instead to come to the defense of the bully. This is why bullies now know it’s okay that they do what they do, because there is no risk of repercussions for their actions. That falls back on the victim.
A truly heartbreaking story is that of 11 year old Mitchell Wilson, from Pickering, Ontario. 2 years after losing his mother to skin cancer, he was diagnosed with a debilitating disease called muscular dystrophy. That was a year ago. 10 months ago, he was robbed by a 12 year old, all for an iPhone he had borrowed from his father. During the robbery, Mitchell was severely beaten by the unnamed young offender, who was too small due to his disease to defend himself or even run away. While the attacker was removed from school and charged, the bullying continued. Mitchell lived in constant fear of running into the bully, to the point that he told his grandmother that he would kill himself if he had to return to school in September. Early last month he received a subpoena to testify against the alleged young attacker, which would require facing the bully and thief again. The next morning, Mitchell found his son lying in bed with a plastic bag pulled over his head. This little man had been pushed to the point that he thought the only way to escape the torment that the bullies had put him through was to escape life completely. Read the rest of this entry »
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July 31st, 1978… 33 years ago, my best friend entered the World. It would be another 5 years before I actually met him and got to know him, but what followed was a good solid decade of friendship. We had done so many things, that I could not possibly begin to recount it all now. From nanaimo bars and sugar cookies at the bakery next to his parents store (he lived upstairs), to pretending that we were going to turn his Dad’s large cube van into a rocket, to using his Commodore 64 to code a laser so we could shock (he often referred to it as “zap”) his sister Kajsa (yeah, we were a little strange). There were movies in Victoria, swimming at the Hotel (Marco Polo was a lot easier for us to win when we could team up and both see underwater), apple fights with the teenagers who lived behind his grandparents house, hockey games in the living room, and even a dart game that resulted in me being hit in the head by one. We both had an obsession with He-Man (it was 1986, leave me alone), music, and computers. He also had a small crush on my sister at the time, which was cool because he was already like my brother so what could go wrong from that? Heh… memory flashback. We (Kjell, myself, my sister Natalie, and her boyfriend at the time) had gone to a movie in Victoria… we were originally going to see King Kong Lives, but because Kjell and I were not yet old enough, we had to go see a different movie instead (Nat and her bf still went to King Kong, I believe). After the movie, there was a race to the bus stop… if Kjell beat me, Natalie would give him a kiss. Of course, I let him run ahead, and got to watch him blush as Natalie gave him a kiss on the cheek. Stupid memory, but it’s the small ones that meant nothing at the time, that mean so much to me now. Read the rest of this entry »
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Today, history will be made. One way or another.
That phrase is being tossed around a lot lately. Yes, it would be historic for the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup. They are certainly the team I am cheering for.
But this isn’t the first the the Canucks have been here. Yes, it’s the first time that this team has been here… this forward line, defensive line, and this goalie… but the Canucks have been in Game 7 of the finals before. In fact, they’ve even pushed it into overtime. We’ve been here before. But history does not always repeat itself. Gods, and the Lord (Stanley) willing, this will be one of those cases. Read the rest of this entry »
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I was 8 the first time I met my grandparents. it was a big thing for me, too. Having never flown before, the chance to fly all by myself at 8 years old was an awesome experience. And this wasn’t just a small flight, either… no, I got to actually cross the entire country, from Coast to Coast. Flying out of Victoria (in a window seat, of course) right to Halifax (with a layover in Vancouver, and a brief stay of a few hours at Toronto Pearson). By myself. At age 8. Obviously, I grew up in a different World than people find their children in now. Anyway, it was the first chance I got to meet my Dad’s parents… as well as a sister of his that I had only barely spoken to on the phone, and his oldest brother.
To say it was an enlightening experience would be to downplay it. My grandfather was a military man. You addressed him with respect, and always called him sir… unless you were one of the grandchildren, in which case he was a tall respected guy that liked to garden and build. The strictness was gone. I could have probably gotten away with anything during that trip… Read the rest of this entry »
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