Bullying message more poignant than ever

Two weeks ago, The Times ran a headline story and interview about the need to stop bullying.Since then,there was a high profile teenage suicide in Coquitlam, BC after the victim was experiencing

John Symon

Special cyber-bullying.Videos of the 15-year-old show her holding scribbled messages, the last one of which reads: "I have nobody. I need someone. My name is Amanda

Kids need adult role models...

Todd." This case, which involved years of bullying and torment, has now prompted debate in the Canadian Parliament.It is unclear if proposed legislation on bullying will be adopted in Ottawa, but Quebec already has legislation on this. Our original article quoted Barbara Victor, clinical director of Montreal-based Ometz Services. We went back to her for more comment: "Bullying is not an institutional issue," underlines Victor. "It's the community that must respond. That is what the evidence seems to say; we must build a culture that doesn't support this type of behavior . A lot of kids are really struggling; we absolutely don't want them to kill themselves!" "Amanda seemed to feel that nobody could help her. If any youths reading The Times feel the same way, I urge them to go to school and talk to all adults who will listen, and to keep talking. There are also the CLSCs (local centres for community services) and parents." Research suggests that only about four percent of bullied youths talk to adults about the problem. Victor insists that schools must convey the message that"we will listen to you." And part of this involves proper training of teachers and of other adults to help them become good listeners. Much of the Todd case involves the Internet and technology;a field where youths sometimes know more than their parents. Victor suggests that adults must take responsibility and make an effort to learn about the mediums (texting, Facebook, etc) that their children are exposed to. There is essentially no respite from this technology; messages using it can be sent to recipients everywhere. "Technology is a very loud voice today. But we

Image of Amanda Todd from Facebook

must ensure that the loudest voice in a youth's soundscape is that of a positive, adult role model. This is the best protection against what happened to Amanda. It is the same thing with drug abuse; to cope properly in today's world, youths must be exposed to strong social skills. They need strong relations with adults to learn these skills." Victor speaks positively of Quebec's anti-bulling legislation, Bill 56 that aims to build strong communities. "Quebec was one of the first places in Canada to have anti-bullying legislation;it holds people responsible. Some people criticize the Quebec government for not putting much money into this initiative, however. But even with little money the issue is to hold the community accountable.We must create a culture that doesn't support bullying." Victor is optimistic that kids being sent to 3,000 schools in Quebec early in 2013 will help achieve just that. Ometz Services, which operates out of Cummings Square,5151 Côte Ste-Catherine Road/ 514-342-0000 , takes its name from the Hebrew word for "courage." By coincidence, Amanda Todd was recently described by her father, Norm, as "courageous." Comment on this article at: www.westendtimes.ca 4 OCTOBER 20, 2012 *

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