Ten-year-old Hannah used to love going to school but now the Ontario fourth grader is too scared to return and her mother Nicola can't blame her. On Monday, Hannah experienced the second of two incidents of bullying with a disturbingly sexual tone. Hannah's mother spoke to the school principal, and although the boy admitted to the incident, as far as she knows no further action was taken by the school. As of Wednesday, Nicola's calls to the superintendent and her school trustee had not been returned, and the principal did not respond to a request for comment for this post.
I was walking down the hall at school after mass, when I felt a hard smack in the back of my head. It wasn't unexpected. Kids had been calling me names like "stupid retard," poking, and threatening me for weeks before it happened. But after it happened I was still in shock. Unfortunately, since I was blindsided, I still have no idea who did it. Nobody who walked down the hall with me that day will speak up and help identify the bully. I'm not going to fight back the way the bullies want me to. Instead, I'm going to speak up and not suffer in silence.
I find it ironic that as we continue the battle against bullying in schools and amongst the A-list, it is in that very same cultural sphere that people use their cause as their weapon. Although I often disagree with comments made in the media, I more firmly believe that it isn't my place to call someone out for their opinion.
The bad news is we perceive bullying to be more prolific than it was when we were young. The good news is we seem to be more aware and less tolerant of its destructive effects. We're split on how effectively our schools are dealing with the problem, to be sure. But the conversations are more open; the subject less beguiling.
I believe that bullying is an addiction. We use addictive behaviours to mask what we feel --generally about our own low self-esteem and dissatisfaction about our lives. Anything can become an addiction if we are using it for that purpose: drugs, alcohol, food, TV, smoking, gambling, excessive spending, gaming, sex, co-dependency in relationships -- the list goes on and on.
I decided it was time to take action. I started seeing a counselour and began the difficult task of dealing with the beliefs and feelings I had built up as a result of the bullying. My counselour helped me identify links between the trauma I had endured and the choices I had made as an adult. Learning about these patterns blew my mind.
In recent years, some parents might have found themselves wondering: "What is the link between bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide?" "Is bullying worse than when I was a kid?" "What can I do to keep my kid safe?" For many parents, it's easy to slide into worry-mode. But it's important for parents to be mindful of how they are reacting to stories they are hearing in the media or within the community.
Dear Teacher: You called after me today. I was frustrated. Angry. Tired and lonely. And I didn't want to hear someone tell me for the bazillionth time all that I had done wrong. Tell me how I had been a bully. A bad boy. The truth is: I know. I know I am a bully. I have a hard time making friends because I'm different. But you took the time.
What divorcing spouses and partners don't realize is there are very real consequences of dysfunctional divorce that affect mental, emotional, and developmental well-being and behaviour of children. The effects of divorce trauma become more pronounced the longer a divorce drags on. And two or five years in the life of a child is a huge percentage of time.
Memories are tumbling through my head as my oldest daughter starts middle school this week. I'm trying not to let my past demons get the best of me, but I'm worried. I don't want her to lose herself, to lose her confidence, to dim her own light like I did. Here are my wishes for you, my daughter, as you enter this new phase of your life.
But a new battle is raging, and as pleased as I am to see so many people outraged by a young actress' right to sexual privacy being violated, I can't help but ask; why such an outcry for Jennifer Lawrence? It has always been disgusting to see so many young women, celebrity or no, be abused by the absurdity of non-consensual pornography, so why are we choosing to be outraged now? Shouldn't we have brought this up a long time ago?
As a society, we really need to stop pulling out the bully card with such ease and lack of thought to its meaning. More so as mothers, we really need to stop overusing it, labelling each other as one when we don't like what another mother has said. Otherwise, the word and definition will lose all meaning, giving real bullies power to carry on.
Canadian charities are experiencing an "advocacy chill" and changing the way they go about their work as a result of what they say is "bullying" by the Harper Conservative government. My just completed Master's thesis research finds that the denunciatory rhetoric of government ministers against charities, followed by stepped up audits is having its toll not only on charity operations, but also on the strength of Canada's public discussions and thus on the vigor of democracy itself.
You do have the freedom to say what you want. You don't have the freedom to escape the fallout from your words. When you are a bigot -- and I use the word without malice -- you are trying to block another human being from having the same rights you have. You can feel however you want to feel. There is nothing wrong with your religious or philosophical beliefs, and in our society, you are free to practice them and believe what you wish. But freedom of speech does not carry a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Amanda Todd took her life in 2012 at the age of 15 after being relentlessly blackmailed by a ruthless predator. She deserved a more informed and effective police response than what was offered. She deserved to feel protected. So do all the Canadian kids who are being blackmailed or lured into performing sexual acts on webcam right now.