Bullying is a serious problem notes Barbara Victor, Clinical director at OMETZ and addressing involves changing many attitudes in society.In a recent interview, Victor noted that many seg-

John Symon

Special

ments of the population who are perceived as "different" are at risk.Victor is hopeful that new research and a joint initiative between OMETZ, the Jasmin Roy Foundation and other partners will produce some positive results. "There is no proof [of an increase in bullying in recent years] but the intensity of bullying and flavor of it have become much more difficult to cope with. While the Internet is a good tool, it can also exacerbate the problem," said Victor in apparent reference to cyber-bullying. "Research shows that, typically, only 4% of bullied children will ask adults for help. The situation can be difficult if you don`t have any friends or support system. Children should not be so unsupported." Victor noted that bullying can be a factor in suicides. "Such cases are a symbol of how these kids feel that no one can help them." "This touches on the whole issue of being different, but it is not always obvious what differences are. Homosexuals, gays, obese children, and others seen as marginal are among those at risk. But it generally doesn't take much to stop an incident once an adult steps in." Victor expressed optimism that the political will has changed. "The community and school governing boards need to follow through.This is not a problem kids can fix by themselves.What we have to do is change attitudes of parents and teachers. We need to teach skills on how to deal with conflicts,how to deal with differences, how to show respect how to ask for help. We need to engage

Bullying is a problem kids cannot solve alone. Parents and teachers must be involved.

Stop bullying NOW!

adults; we need to create an environment where children can be strong. We need to create an environment which doesn`t allow [bullying] in first place." There has been an emphasis on teaching mathematics and computer skills at schools in recent years to the detriment of other pro- grams. Victor sees this as part of the problem."Bullying is perhaps the result of not focussing enough on social skills and resiliency [in our schools]. And happy, self-reliant children with lots of friends tend to do better academically." "In January, the Jasmin Roy tool kit will be distributed

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free to 3,000 schools across Quebec," concluded Victor. "The contents of that tool kit amalgamate all current theories [on bullying] and provide resources so that schools can fulfill their new obligations under Bill 56."

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