It's sad to think that, in 2018, there's still a need to have an official “Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week.”
But given what has been unfolding this past week at the prestigious St. Michael's College private boys' school in Toronto, not to mention frequent media reports involving young people committing suicide as tormented victims of cyber-bullying, clearly there's a long way to go towards ending this issue once and for all.
It doesn't seem to be from a lack of effort. Both local school boards, for instance, have strategies and initiatives in place to promote a safe and inclusive learning environment for their students. Guest speakers are brought in regularly to reinforce the anti-bullying message, as well as the consequences of such behaviour.
There's also “Pink Shirt Day" and "Day of Pink” held annually in schools to tackle homophobia-related bullying.
Yet despite these efforts to build a positive school climate, it's painfully obvious—and school boards themselves acknowledge—that bullying incidents do occur, whether it's an individual or group picking on someone for whatever reason either physically or through social media.
Having a zero tolerance policy towards bullying, as well as encouraging the reporting of any and all incidents, may seem to be obvious steps to resolving the problem. Unfortunately, in many cases, the victims may be too frightened (perhaps out of fear of even worse reprisals for “squealing”) or embarrassed to tell their parents or a teacher.
The problem is compounded by other students who may know what is happening but remain silent.
Still, that's not to say we simply shrug our shoulders in thinking bullying always will be part of life. The message needs to be driven home constantly that bullying is not acceptable, starting with parents teaching their children proper behaviour and coupled with continued initiatives in the schools.
It may be an uphill battle but we must never waver from the goal—no matter how difficult—of making “Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week” a thing of the past.