Fight Cyberbullying. Build Healthy Relationships. | Toronto Teacher Mom

Fight Cyberbullying. Build Healthy Relationships.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Fight cyberbullying. Build healthy relationships.

There I was, ten years old, hanging around the school playground minding my own business as I counted down the minutes until the bell rang. It was a cold and snowy afternoon, and so I had put on all my winter gear to keep warm. All of a sudden, someone took my tuque and ran off. I turned around to find a couple of boys pointing at me and laughing, taunting me with my tuque. I went to retrieve it from them only to find myself in the midst of an unwelcome game of Monkey in the Middle. 

This wasn't the first time this had happened, nor was it the first time that I was targeted as an easy victim. An eager French student, I was often picked on for my overzealous need to openly display my strengths in learning a second language. I was often called a "teacher's pet" or ridiculed for being a know-it-all. I still remember the year I was in a split grade and the older boys would tease me after class, mimicking me and shouting into my face, "Bon après-midi, Monsieur! Bon après-midi, Monsieur!" The look of disgust on their faces is still clear in my mind.

During gym class, I usually ended up getting picked last for sports teams and, as a result, I had low self-confidence when participating in physical activities. I remember dreading recess and the feeling of being left out, so, as I got older, I spent most recesses volunteering in the office, answering phone calls, or helping the kindergarten teachers prepare art materials. It was much easier than worrying about getting picked on or feeling isolated on the schoolyard.

Looking back, I realize things could have been much worse. The verbal and social bullying could have also turned into physical bullying. And had I been born but a decade later, I could have fallen victim to cyberbullying.

According to a recent Statistics Canada study, "[n]early one in five Internet users aged 15 to 29 reported having been cyberbullied or cyberstalked." My worst fear is that people won't be surprised by that statistic. While many of us accept that kids will be constantly connected to electronic devices, social media and other Internet-based activities, cyberbullying should have no part in this societal shift. Granted, in today's day and age, we are surrounded by technology and we are very much fortunate to have these amazing tools at our fingertips. However, with the integration of technology comes the crucial responsibility of all invested parties to recognize cyberbullying and work together to prevent it.

In an effort to better equip parents, children and schools, national communications provider, Primus partnered with PREVNet, Canada's authority on bullying, to launch a new website at primus.ca/cyberbullying. Throughout the site, parents and educators will find an array of materials designed to provide support ideas regarding the varying needs of children at three different stages: kids, tweens and teenagers. The website will also serve as a platform to help facilitate difficult conversations, deescalate heated situations and share tools that will help stop harmful behaviour. Visitors to the site can also read insightful blog posts from subject-matter experts.

PREVNet notes that toxic online relationships can have damaging long-term effects, and that, in some cases, cyberbullying can be more detrimental to the emotional growth and development of a child than traditional schoolyard bullying. 

No one asks to be a victim of cyberbullying. And no one wakes up and decides that they will become a cyberbully.  In fact, aggressors of cyberbullying are often victims themselves. The more we can educate ourselves and our children, the better our chances of stopping harmful behaviours and simultaneously building healthier relationships, both online and in real life.

Please take a minute to visit primus.ca/cyberbullying, bookmark it for future reference and even share it with your child's teacher or someone you know who could benefit from this important resource. My ten-year-old self will thank you for it.

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Primus. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

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9 COMMENTS

  1. It is unfortunate that something that provides so much good also can be used to harm. Thanks for the resource.

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  2. I don’t know how should I give you thanks! I am totally stunned by your article. You saved my time. Thanks a million for sharing this article.

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  3. I was bullied as a child too. I'm so happy that we didn't have the internet back then. But now we do and I worry about my boys. I worry about them being bullied. If I see them, or any other kid being bullied when I'm around, I never stay silent. I speak out and stop it. It ain't happening on my watch! Bullies SUCK!

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  4. One of my daughters was bullied at school, it was one girl at the head of it all and I'll never understand why. I went in to see the headmaster about it and it appears he'd already talked to the parents who weren't concerned at all! What kind of parents are they? The girl was moved to another class and the bullying stopped. Today it would have been cyber-bullying and that's a much tougher subject and a case for the police I should think.

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  6. Although I have never been bullied I have witnessed it from the sidelines and reported it to the authorities at school but never saw a significant change. I have also seen it in the workforce and it hurts me to see the person being picked on. I think when a bully is spotted and they know about that person the schools should make the bully wear a sign on their back saying "I am a bully".

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  7. Although I have never been bullied at school I saw it happen from the sidelines and although the bully was reported nothing ever seemed to change.I feel so badly for the person being picked on and I often wished the school would make them wear a sign on their back saying "I am a bully". Cyber bullying is even more terrifying and it gives the bully even more leverage to pick on others.

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  8. My son was bullied quite a bit; he has a disability so he didn't "behave" like the other kids making him an easy target. Thankfully the school was quite good and stopped it as soon as they were aware of it. Such a shame that kids, and even adults bully others. Now with cyber bullying, it seems that people can hide behind a fake identity. So sad.

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  9. This is a very informative article. Thank you for sharing.

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