Date Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012
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Bullying has been around for generations. In the past, children were taught that this type of damaging behaviour was something they had to live with, and they were given advice like: "Sticks and stones can break your bones but names can never hurt you."
In recent years, however, mounting evidence points to the need to stop bullying in its tracks. Bullying can leave a variety of psychological scars, as we see through news stories in which it has led to situations as drastic as teen suicide and homicide.
"Bullying has become a serious issue in our schools and neighbourhoods, and parents must be diligent in looking for signs of victimization," says James Savage, executive vice president at Western Financial Group, an insurance and financial services company committed to protecting families. "Name-calling and other negative behaviours toward children and teens have proven to be every bit as damaging as 'sticks and stones'. Schools, parents, children and teens themselves need to stand up against these behaviours to ensure the health of our communities."
The Government of Alberta has established BullyingCanada.com, which identifies four types of bullying that parents and teachers should watch out for:
Verbal - from name-calling and spreading rumours to making threats or attacking one's race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation,
Physical - hurting another, touching someone in an unwanted way, stealing or destroying belongings, etc.,
Social - from humiliation and exclusion to mobbing and scapegoating,
Cyber - using the Internet, text messaging or other electronic means to embarrass or intimidate someone.
At school, the anxiety caused by bullying can decrease a student's ability to concentrate and learn. At home, a bullied child or teen may become shy and withdrawn, experience physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches and panic attacks, or suffer insomnia, exhaustion, nightmares or over-sleeping.
The good news is that parents and peers can make a difference. Studies have shown that when peers intervene, bullying behaviours stop within 10 seconds. Parents and teachers can help by intervening too, and by offering steadfast support when an individual shows signs of being a victim. Call BullyingCanada at 1-877-352-4497 for more information on how you can help.
(Please note that CMHO staff does not reply to comments that are posted on news stories.)