Guest: I remember being in grade school and being bullied, only to get to high school where I became a bully. To me is certainly seems to be an issue of power especially as the bullying in each case was so different in style.
Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt: Bullying is a systematic abuse of power. Bullying is about the abuse of power.
Erin Anderssen: Hi guest, can you explain how the bullying you experienced, versus the bullying you did was different?
Guest: Well age, I'm sure, had a lot to do with it. When I was younger the teasing about my accent (I moved from the UK) turned into some pretty nasty name calling and vandalism, which only stopped when I was put into a composite grade class a couple years later. In high school my bullying was quite subtle, back handed compliments, exclusion etc not nearly as easy to detect by teachers or even some peers.
Erin Anderssen: Guest, in high school, what - if anything - would have made you stop bullying, from a school perspective?
Guest: I think if it had been checked by peers and those teachers that I had a good releationship with - almost as if there was a program to wean me off getting the boost from abusing power in that way. but by checked I think it couldn't be too based on punishment, maybe more on helping others. It may sound a bit granola but I think being made a 'bad guy" would have sent me further down the wrong path.
Erin Anderssen: Dr. Vaillancourt, many bullies are also victims. Why does this happen, and doesn't that complicate how to handle bullying itself?
Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt: Children and youth learn pretty quickly that you achieve power, unfortunately, by oppressing others. And so, this does occur far too often.
plentyspace: Bullying Awareness Week is coming up (15-21) shoudl this be used as an opportunity for parents and teachers to talk about bullying?
Erin Anderssen: Plentyspace: I think this is a great idea. What's the most important message, you'd want to see sent?
Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt: YES, Bullying Awareness Week is a terrific platform for a discussion about bullying.
Erin Anderssen: Dr. Vaillancourt. I'd like to put my last question to you: if there was one thing schools could do tomorrow to reduce bullying, what you suggest it be?
Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt: One thing they can do is monitor students.
JH: I think empowering our youth is beautiful. I specifically enjoyed the example from the article where the peer mediators investigated a child alone, hood over his head and discovered he was being intentionally left-out. Training educators to recognize social exclusion and question why a child is isolated on the playground as this intuitive youth team did is so important. Social exclusion and social bullying hurt. I think recognizing the hurt caused by this form of peer abuse and intervening should be a big priority for educators. Too often I see adults telling kids they don't have to play with a particular child if they don't want to after a conflict. This mentality can fuel bullies. In my experience sending the message that everyone has a right to be included leads to a more effective discussion about how to solve individual conflicts, the kids involved learn important skills, and it does not nurture social exclusion as a way to harm others. I have worked in settings where it is a rule not to leave anyone out and have been amazed at how accepting the kids are of this idea once it is part of the culture.
Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt: As this discussion wraps up I want to point out a few facts about bullying. Longitudinal research points clearly to the fact that bullying causes harm. Children and youth who are bullied become depressed, anxious, suicidal, sick, etc. because of the poor treatment they receive from their peers. Bullied youth are more likely to drop-out of school and they report in adulthood, that the oppression they received from peers still haunts them. They feel inadequate, sad, and angry. Over 450,000 children and youth are bullied at school *every day* in Canada. We cannot say we value children if in the same breath we can we condone bullying. We need to stand up together against bullying--- we can no longer stand by and do nothing. The evidence is too convincing. Bullying harms.
Danielle Adams: We are out of time for our discussion today. Thanks to all the readers who joined us, and a special thanks to Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt and Erin Anderssen for sharing their valuable input.