Wonder Woman Stands by 8-Year-Old Tomboy
The Advocate: – “…Carter tweeted, “Sending love to little Sunnie Kahle! Stay strong and love who you are..short hair, sneakers and all.” The wondrous entertainer’s words of encouragement are a welcome contrast to the letter Kahle’s grandparents received from Timberlake Christian School, which informed the student’s family that the 8-year-old would not be welcome back for the 2014-2015 school year unless her dress and behavior followed suit “with her God-ordained identity…” (READ MORE)
Shields Gazette: – “…We’re going to be there to offer help and advice to people who are being bullied and we’re working closely with other organisations which are against bullying too….It’s amazing, that with everything they’re going through, they’re remaining so strong and trying to do something to help others. I’ve been told that once I’m 16 I’ll be able to take on volunteers at the charity, so we can help even more people…This campaign is really important, because bullying is a big problem in society and it’s a very horrible and traumatic experience for people who go through it…It is a problem that people could speculate will never be solved, because there are always new forms of bullying emerging, but people shouldn’t just accept it as a part of life. Nobody should be singled out for their differences. We should judge people on their character, and not the colour of their skin, their sexuality or anything else that people think of as different….” (READ MORE)
CSMonitor: – “…At 26, he told his parents he was gay, and three years later he was able to get sober. During his first five years of sobriety, four people died by suicide within the tightknit community of gay people in 12-step substance-abuse recovery programs in the Houston area. But the suicides were only “whispered about,” he says, and the stigma surrounding the issue drove him to volunteer in local and Texas-wide suicide prevention. For youths today, it’s harder to escape bullying, because of social media. But bullying is never the sole cause of suicide, Bush and various experts say, and if society draws too much of a “straight line between being bullied and suicide, that gives children the impression that, if I’m being bullied … maybe that’s something I should do.” On the flip side, the Internet offers resources for gay youths from groups such as The Trevor Project and the It Gets Better Project. Even as an older teen, Bush used his experience to help others – teaching Sunday school and working with a minister on a suicide-prevention lesson for junior high school students. “I knew enough to believe that I woke up the next day for a reason,” he says. “There are still days that suicide pops into my head, but … I’ve been given tools and I have support, and I know that there are solutions to whatever it is that is going on…” (READ MORE)
RCMP Const. Chris Lavery
education on cyber bullying – “…During the classroom sessions on cyber bullying and sexting, I ask the kids a lot of questions…One question that I do ask is if any of the students have been bullied, or have bullied anyone. By the end of every class, all hands are up for one or the other. By making students aware of the consequences of their actions, we can change their attitudes…Another aspect of these cyber threats is that this generation is the first to have to deal with it. When we grew up, there was no such technology, and we often said and did things that would be considered bullying…With these kids, once they send that photo or threat, they no longer have control of where it goes, or how long it stays there. Thirty years from now, those poor decisions might come back to haunt them. Even deleting the electronic message will not solve the problem; deletion is not forever…My goal in teaching these sessions is to raise awareness of these issues before the students encounter them. Both sexting and cyber bullying have long-term consequences. If we can help them make good decisions, we have done our job…” – Tim Lasiuta, Innisfail Province, 24 Dec 2013 (READ MORE)
CBC News:CBC News: “…Dany Morin, the NDP MP for Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, was in the St. John’s area on Monday to drum up support for a national anti-bullying strategy. Morin, one of the youngest MPs in Parliament, and is openly gay, said he knows first hand about bullying, having been bullied in school from the time he was 10 until he was 15 years old. “It was mostly verbal bullying and some physical bullying,” recalled Morin. “Some of this bullying was due to me being overweight back then, but also due to my sexual orientation. It was a pretty dark time…It is important to continue to talk about it, and to put pressure on the federal government to act on it, and not have to wait until the next young Canadian will not be able to live any longer with the bullying.” Morin, along with Ryan Cleary, the NDP MP for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, spoke with reporters before heading out to talk with Grade 9 students at Holy Cross Junior High in St. John’s and St. Peter’s Junior High in Mount Pearl about bullying. “Think twice before you tweet. Before you Facebook. What you are saying and what you are posting,” Cleary pointed out. “Think twice. Everything has a consequence…” (READ MORE)
CBC: – “…It hurts,” he told the crowd gathered at Fraserview Hall. “It don’t make no difference how old or what grade you in when people laugh at you.” Holyfield, speaking at a fundraiser for the Amanda Todd Legacy Fund, says he was laughed at as a child because he couldn’t read. “They started laughing at me in kindergarten,” he said. “It is amazing in kindergarten when they say you don’t know your alphabet and you sitting then there seeing people the same age and everybody laugh and the teacher don’t stop them.” Amanda Todd’s mother Carol said Holyfield’s involvement is a huge help to the cause. “It was like, ‘Wow. This is big news having someone like him wanting to be attached to the [Amanda Todd] Legacy Fund,’” she said…” – CBC News, Evander Holyfield fights bullying at Amanda Todd fundraiser, Jan 29 2013 (READ MORE)
ben-cohen.com: “…Our first project in line is to make sure that Bully Free Zone in Bolton does not have to shut down after 15 years of helping bullied youngsters. Jill is helping them with a PR strategy to get local businesses and residents involved to provide the funds they need. Then I am going to be spending the day with Chantelle who runs it and a group of youngsters who have benefited from the centre over the years. We’re going to play a bit of tag rugby and then go off into the town centre to drum up support. I’ll let you know the date when it has been confirmed. Next Wednesday (3rd August) is a big day for StandUp as we are launching the website and the StandUp T shirts and wristbands go on sale online. It’s been quite complicated as we had to set up everything so that we can send T shirts all over the world. The site will also be able to take donations for those who want to support us in that way. Click here for details Once things are up and running smoothly, we will be plannig our first expansion of StandUp which will be to look at registering StandUp as a charity in the UK . That’s next on the list. However, we are running projects on both sides of the Atlantic so both UK and US will benefit from the word go. Next step, the rest of the world! Our message is world wide though and we are encouraging everyone to join in. Our aim is to direct our message of acceptance at the majority. Those people who don’t really get involved in matters of homophobia or bullying. If they were aware of the pain and suffering that many have to go through and the total injustice of certain ways of thinking, we believe that they will offer support – often when it matters most…” StandUp Latest
The Province: Many people who are bullied at work – whether in government or the private sector — simply keep their heads down and their mouths shut and hope the torment doesn’t get worse. Or they quit their jobs or go on stress leave or start drinking or taking drugs to cope. But Catherine Clark stood up to the bullies in the B.C. government. Now she hopes by telling her story publicly, she’ll encourage other bullied workers to stand up for them-selves, and encourage the government to stop the culture of bullying on the taxpayers’ tab….”I was under so much stress, and suffering from high blood pressure, that my doctor advised me not to go to the meeting,” Clark told me on Monday, adding the experience left her feeling paranoid. “It was startling to think someone had gone to the trouble and expense to identify me. I thought, ‘They have enough time, money and public resources available to spy on a government employee on maternity leave?’ “I’d expect something like that in East Berlin during the Cold War. I thought, ‘My God, what else are they doing? Are they watching me?'” “..There was a lot of vague talk about loyalty and conflict of interest, but my loyalty is to my disabled child. It all got very emotional…” …Last week, after the government encouraged bullied workers to come forward, she posted her story on an internal online forum, and has received an outpouring of support from other employees…” (Bullied workers encouraged to take a stand)
The Journal: Fourteen year old Hannah Dahlin plays hockey for the Bronco girls hockey team, enjoys listening to music, likes taking pictures, hanging out with friends and shopping. While the smiley eighth grader has a lot going for her, she also knows what it is like to be bullied….“I was always into different music and different fashion trends than a lot of other kids,” Dahlin told The Journal in a Facebook message. “Around sixth grade, the bullying got worse and I turned to self harm to solve my problems. I was such a mess at one point in my life.” Dahlin continued that when she started attending Falls High School, the harassment carried on. Eventually, she wanted to make a change to avoid spending her school years in such a dark place. “So, very slowly, I started to learn how to not let it affect me. It took time, but it got me to where I am now.” Feeding off her experience, Dahlin explained she wanted to do what she could to make a difference in her life and those of others. After hearing of a young girl named Benni Cinkle who had been a target of global online bullying, Dahlin “liked” Cinkle’s fan page on Facebook and entered a contest Cinkle was hosting called “Bring Benni to School Contest.” “I decided to enter because I was aware of the bullying at our school and that it was a serious problem that needed to be taken care of,” Dahlin said. The inspiration for Dahlin’s essay came from “kids who have ever been bullied or hurt.” It described living in a small town and the idea of “normal” that people had. “I never fit into that,” she said. When she was contacted about being chosen as winner, Dahlin last week said she was very excited to have Cinkle visit Falls High School and hopefully encourage her and her peers to help put an end to bullying (Essay brings anti-bullying presentation to Falls High).
Jacques St. Pierre
Jacques St. Pierre, 17, is in Grade 12 and is student council president of the Etobicoke School of the Arts. St. Pierre endured bullying during his elementary school years and wanted to do something to raise awareness about the problem. “I got called the gay kid, the fag, because I liked to be in the school plays,” he told CBC’s Melanie Nagy. “I lost my best friend because he joined in with the bullies. It’s not fun, I’ve been there, I’ve been bullied. Before that, I didn’t know bullying could affect people so severely.” Motivated to do something about it, St. Pierre organized a school assembly with an anti-bullying theme. He also gathered pledges from fellow students, calling on them to agree to help combat the problem. Grade 12 student Jacques St. Pierre was bullied during his elementary school years and wanted to do something to combat the problem. CBCBut he also sent dozens of emails to celebrities, asking them to give their support. That’s when he received an email he won’t soon forget. “The subject line said ‘To Jacques from Lady Gaga,'” he told Nagy. “It said ‘click on the link below to download the video for your assembly.’ So no questions asked, Lady Gaga sent us a video. I watched it, and I started crying. I’m a huge fan. It’s kind of embarrassing because I love her so much. I couldn’t believe it…I’m starting to actually realize how big this problem is and I just want to make a difference now,” said one male student…I love Lady Gaga and it means so much to me that she could do that for us and support us through this,” said another. St. Pierre said he was elated to receive such high-profile support. “Young or old, people know who Lady Gaga is, because she’s such a character and she does so much to stand up against bullying in any way she can. And someone as inspiring as her, taking 20 minutes out of her day to write down a speech, sit in front of a Teleprompter, get all made up and read it to us directly at our school. It’s fantastic…” (Lady Gaga sends Toronto school anti-bullying video)
“I was bullied for my perceived sexual orientation late in elementary school and into middle school. High school, it kind of leveled off. And I say perceived sexual orientation because as a fifth grader, I definitely didn’t identify as gay. I don’t know many fifth graders that would. I had grown up with a discouragement, and when I actually did identify as gay, it was very hard for me to accept that. So, about my junior year of high school, I was very comfortable with myself and I recognized the impact that bullying had on me and I recognized at my high school, there were certainly other students who couldn’t identify that way because of those attitudes, so I started a gay-straight alliance … when I really saw the impact that that had on my school, I wanted that to occur at other schools and then in the state of Georgia. I worked on my local policy and in a way it became a state policy and, further than that, I lobbied my congressional representatives, advocating for a national bullying policy. The safe schools improvement act and the student non-discrimination act are two pieces of federal legislation that will set a standard for bullying and could have a tremendous effect on students throughout the country. So, it really just started with a personal experience. I consider myself very lucky because I know that there are definitely students in grade school and also college who experience harassment and it has an extremely negative impact on them, so much so that they’re driven to take their lives and I definitely didn’t come near that. So what I say is, provide a voice for the people who can’t speak up…[I was invited to a] reception for people who were working on things like the bullying legislation to support LGBT students and I have a proclamation from President Obama that promises to continue advocating for LGBT people, when it comes to bullying, when it comes to marriage, when it comes to issues that are very personal to me and that will affect my life. There were a lot of elected officials. I saw the Chief of Staff of the White House. I got to shake hands with the President and Vice President Biden and listen to him speak directly in front of him, so it was life-changing experience, for sure. Just to be surrounded by people who are motivated, the movers and shakers, people who are actually doing things. You could say that I kind of caught the bug of wanting to make change and have a positive impact like the people in that room were doing. So, it was fantastic. It was great to meet elected officials and others who weren’t there because they were gay or because they were bisexual or transgender but because they cared, because they thought it was the right thing to do, so it was also promising for me to meet people like that who I knew who could share, I don’t want to say the burden, but it certainly is a huge task to change the world into what I would like for it to be and to see others that share that vision was outstanding…” (THREE MINUTE INTERVIEW: Austin Laufersweiler, Student Advocate)
Law firmer against bullies
GLSEN Names Georgia High School Senior Austin Laufersweiler Student Advocate of the Year
Austin Laufersweiler Named GLSEN’s Inaugural Student Advocate of the Year
On bullying: “The purpose of bullying is to hide the inadequacy of the bully and has nothing to do with “management” or the achievement of tasks. Bullies project their inadequacies onto others to distract and divert attention away from the inadequacies. In most cases of workplace bullying reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line, the bully is a serial bully who has a history of conflict with staff. The bullying that one sees is often also the tip of an iceberg of wrongdoing which may include misappropriation of budgets, harassment, discrimination, as well as breaches of rules, regulations, professional codes of conduct and health and safety practices…Bullying is, I believe, the underlying behavior and thus the common denominator of harassment, discrimination, stalking and abuse. What varies is the focus for expression of the behavior. For instance, a harasser or discriminator focuses on race or gender or disability.” Bully at Work Interview with Tim Field
Tim Field was a prominent British anti-bullying activist with his main focus relating to workplace bullying. He was born in Eastbourne on 24 April 1952. From 1971 to 1975 he studied computing science in Stafford at the North Staffordshire Polytechnic, now Staffordshire University, and was awarded a First Class Honours degree. He then worked in the computer industry for nineteen years until he had to stop due to the effects of experiencing severe workplace bullying (Wikipedia: Tim Field).
izzoiz: “People called me ‘Marina the man’ and … it was pretty bad,” said Belotserkovskaya. “I don’t like to complain about it. I know a lot of other kids who committed suicide maybe had it worse than I did. But it was a lot of public humiliation.” Marina says the abuse at her middle school persisted — despite the presence of teachers whom, she says, were unwilling to step in. “One time there were probably like ten kids in the classroom yelling at me. Teacher didn’t really do anything, which is what shocks me,” said Belotserkovskaya. “It was mostly the popular kids,” she said. “I just kind of sat there and took it.” When she got to high school, Marina came out — with flourish. Sheposted a video on Youtube which tells her story as a teenage lesbian — and a bullying victim. The video shows here silently holding signs telling her story, over a bed of music. “I consider myself to have gone through hell,” said Belotserkovskaya. “I want to show people that…as dark as things may seem everything will get better. Which, I really wanted to stress that. My story did have that happy ending.” Must Watch: Teenager Makes Video Of Her Bullying Experience
Press Citizen: “Our goal is to inform people what bullying looks like,” Abraham said. “We want students to have more information.” Blanco called her presentation a “dramatic reenactment” of her experiences, with the names of many of her tormentors changed in her story. She recounted the story of popular Nadia and other “cool kids” throwing dirt at her friend Roger, who had Down syndrome, in junior high, and how when she refused to dissect a pig in an eighth-grade science class, Nadia threw a partially dissected pig at her. She said some of her classmates laughed. “They laughed because they were scared,” Blanco said. “That makes them cowards. A coward is the most pathetic thing you can aspire to be.” In high school, she said she was often ignored by other students, which prompted her to fake being sick so she would not have to go to school. She pleaded with the West High students to be sure to include those who are not necessarily part of the in-crowd. “Bullying isn’t just the mean things you do,” Blanco said. “It’s all the nice things you don’t do. Never including someone is bullying, too” (Rob Daniel Feb 2011). Jodee Blanco delivers anti-bullying message to West High
Jodee Blanco’s Author Bio: Survivor, expert and activist Jodee Blanco is one of the country’s pre-eminent voices on the subject of school bullying. She is the author of The New York Times bestseller, Please Stop Laughing At Me . . . One Woman’s Inspirational Story. A chronicle of her years as the student outcast, the book inspired a movement inside the nation’s schools and is swiftly becoming an American classic. Referred to by many as “the anti-bullying bible,” it is required reading in hundreds of middle and high schools and numerous universities throughout the country. Please Stop Laughing at Me . . . has also been recognized as an essential resource by The National Crime Prevention Council, The Department of Health & Human Services, the National Association of Youth Courts, Special Olympics, The FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), Teacher Magazine and hundreds of state and local organizations from the PTA and regional law enforcement coalitions to school safety groups. www.jodeeblanco.com
Edmonton Journal: “There are kids going into kindergarten who do have two moms or do have two dads,” said Brulotte, who is gay. “It may seem early and I think elementary school is what parents are going to have the biggest issue with, but I feel like it’s something that, if done, would lead to a positive solution. I don’t see anything negative coming out of it, other than the parental backlash.” Awareness is growing about bullying and sexual orientation issues and there are more positive depictions of gay people in popular culture, with shows such as Glee and Modern Family, Brulotte said. However, homophobia in schools is still very real, Brulotte said Thursday. It starts early “and carries on,” said Brulotte, co-leader of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Jasper Place High School. “I feel like we have some progress in the school and, especially in Jasper Place, that we have had some support from faculty members … but there’s still a lot of homophobia that I see regularly in the hallways, and I’ve seen teachers kind of look away and not really say anything,” he said (Andrea Sands, Feb 2011). Public schools will combat homophobic bullying
Columbia Tribune: “After what happen to Megan, I knew I couldn’t go back to my everyday life,” she said. “Essentially I decided to get out there to spread the word. I don’t think Megan would have just let me sit.” Meier, who lives in O’Fallon, visited with Gentry Middle School students yesterday afternoon and with parents, educators and community members at Rock Bridge High School in the evening. At both events, she told Megan’s story, which she said is key in making kids understand the severity of cyberbullying. “I talk about Megan, and I show them her picture so they can know who she was and that she was a real kid,” Meier said. “A lot of times … kids think it’s a joke and don’t think it’s that big of an issue, and they don’t understand that the things they say are hurtful.” Mier said often students will talk to her after class to tell her they have been bullied or realized they have bullied others, and she will tell them where to turn for help. Sometimes students or parents will keep in touch with her via e-mail afterward. Her goal, she said, is just to reach one child in each community, which she accomplished at Gentry yesterday. “I had one student who told me he realized he was a bully, and he was really upset that he had hurt other people with his words,” she said (Catherine Martina, Feb 2011). Mom of MySpace victim speaks on bullying
Wikipedia: Megan Taylor Meier (November 6, 1992 – October 17, 2006) was an American teenager from Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, who committed suicide by hanging three weeks before her 14th birthday. A year later, Meier’s parents prompted an investigation into the matter and her suicide was attributed to cyber-bullying through the social networking website MySpace. The mother of a friend of Meier, Lori Drew, was later indicted on the matter in 2008, but in 2009, Drew was acquitted. Suicide of Megan Meier
Beststart: Katie Neu is one of two Founders of the website www.BullyingCanada.ca, which is the first youth created anti-bullying website in Canada. She and Rob Frenette launched BullyingCanada December 17th, 2006 as a place for victims to go and share their stories to learn that they were not alone in the bullying world. Today, just over three years later, BullyingCanada is more than just a place for victims to go and share their stories about bullying. Victims, bystanders, bullies, parents, school officials and the community at large can share their stories, seek help and support as well as information on bullying and a variety of many other youth issues. Hundreds of people visit the website every day from all over the world. Katie was bullied from the first day of kindergarten right through until she left high school at the end of grade 9 to finish her school career online. She and Rob work every day trying to meet their one and only goal – to make sure no one else ever has to go through what they did. Katie and Rob measure their success not by the international attention they have received, but by the personal emails of those who have received help and hope though their work. Best Start Annual Conference Speakers Biography
Toronto Sun: Neu, now an anti-bullying advocate for Bullying Canada.ca, said she started getting bullied as early as kindergarten in Listowel and, despite the interventions of some teachers, it continued until she finished Grade 9. After that, Neu completed her high school taking classes online. “I’ve had rocks thrown at me, I’ve been pushed off playground equipment, I’ve had someone try to break my neck. You name it, it has happened to me on the playground, in front of teachers,” she said. Bullies need to be confronted and challenged on their behaviour, which is often a result of the bullies themselves being exposed to violence or abuse at home, she said. Having a week to raise awareness will help with that. “You’re supposed to (feel safe at school) but you don’t. If you’re being really bullied you don’t,” she said. “You go to school and instead of focusing on learning you’re trying to find ways of getting to the next class without getting shoved into lockers, or thrown into garbage cans or thrown down a fight of stairs” (Jonathan Jenkins Feb 2010) Anti-bullying advocate was school punching bag
RELATED READING: Telegraph-Journal – First official anti-bullying day to be marked this week
Montreal Gazette: David Knight couldn’t look at the salmon entree, the chocolate mousse or the strawberry tarts at the conference luncheon. He had to address a crowd of Montreal educators and he was nervous. Eating would give the former bullying victim-turned activist a bout of stomach cramps – the kind he used to get as a teenager, when he had to return to high school after lunch and face his tormenters. Now 21, Knight is wiry and stands more than six feet tall. He has a steady girlfriend and loves fixing up old cars. He’s wearing jeans and a pin from Canada’s air force – where he’s an officer cadet – affixed to his blazer lapel at Monday’s conference. But at times, Knight still feels like the 5-foot-4, 120-pound teen who was shoved, punched and robbed by bullies for years at his school near Burlington, Ont. “I used to fit really well into garbage cans,” he recalled.
David Knight and his mother, Nancy, first made headlines in June 2002 for suing an Ontario school board for $500,000 in damages, a public apology and a promise to come up with concrete plans to deal with bullying. Their case, which is still winding through the justice system, alleges Knight’s principal and board officials knew of the bullying for years but didn’t stop it. Knight spoke Monday at a conference on bullying, organized by the Centre for Educational Leadership, a pedagogical think-tank based at McGill University. The Knights are one of a growing number of Canadian families seeking legal recourse against former tormenters or against schools officials for allowing the taunts to continue (The Gazette, Mar 2006). High school was time of torment
PINK SHIRT February 28, 2008 – Bullies harassed a boy, calling him a homosexual for wearing pink the first day of school. In the Fall of 2007, a Grade 9 boy at Central Kings Rural High School in Cambridge, Nova Scotia wore a pink shirt to school and was bullied, threatened, and assaulted with false homophobic epithets. Travis Price and David Shepherd, two Grade 12 students at the same school, heard about it and took action. They wore pink to school the next day and challenged 400+ other schoolmates to join them in showing support for the victim of bullying. This original story swept across North America and even made its way to Europe (ARTICLE: it was about taking a stand against bullying). On February 27th (2008), residents of the community of Markham demonstrated a zero tolerance for bullying. Markham residents wore pink for a good cause
David Shepherd and Travis Price
CBC: When the bullied student, who has never been identified, walked into school to see his fellow students decked out in pink, some of his classmates said it was a powerful moment. He may have even blushed a little. “Definitely it looked like there was a big weight lifted off his shoulders. He went from looking right depressed to being as happy as can be,” said Shepherd. And there’s been nary a peep from the bullies since, which Shepherd says just goes to show what a little activism will do.
“If you can get more people against them … to show that we’re not going to put up with it and support each other, then they’re not as big as a group as they think are,” he says. The students’ “sea of pink” campaign did not go unnoticed outside the province. U.S. talk show host Ellen DeGeneres expressed interest in their story, and other schools are talking about holding their own “pink day.” “It’s been totally overwhelming for us. I mean we’re just two local boys and I mean we’re getting calls from like Alaska and e-mails. It’s just phenomenal the support that we’ve gotten from across the globe,” said Price. Bullied student tickled pink by schoolmates’ T-shirt campaign
Beststart: Karen Sebben is one of the founders of the York Region Anti-Bullying Coalition. It was created as a result of a serious and personal bullying experience that caused Karen to make the decision that more needs to be done to assist families in similar situations to navigate the complex school system when trying to find answers. The organization’s goals are to continue to create awareness and work with the community to educate children about how to recognize acts of bullying, and how to respond to such acts. The organization also assists those affected by bullying, by partnering families with community counseling, treatment, and social services. Lobbying the government for changes to legislation to ensure that all children receive equal opportunities to move forward with their education is also paramount to Karen and the coalition. Many voices – one vision to eliminate bullying. Karen Sebben
Readers Digest: Robert Frenette is 19 now, but he clearly remembers quivering the morning he started kindergarten in Bathurst, N.B. Frenette was born with cerebral palsy and started walking only when he was three. He worried that the other kids would see him as different and pick on him. By the end of that first day of school, when an older boy shoved him to the ground, his worst fears had been realized. The bullying, taunting and teasing continued for years, right into high school. In Grade 9, a student called him Crazy Legs, a nickname that stuck for years. Once, two students tried to burn the back of Frenette’s neck with a lighter. “The bruises go away,” he says, “But the emotional abuse stays with you.”
Frenette, now a journalism student at New Brunswick Community College, is doing something to help others avoid such pain. He and 17-year-old Katie Neu, who lives in Ontario, founded a website called BullyingCanada.ca. The site offers youth links to resources about bullying (such as organizations that support victims), a chat room to share their experiences and sections for news and stories. Hundreds of emails a day arrive for Frenette and Neu from victims of bullying who are in despair and feel they have nowhere else to turn. Some are even feeling suicidal. “I tell them they’re not alone and that it’s not their fault,” says Neu, who says her self-esteem was shattered by bullying. “I thought there was something wrong with me. I didn’t know how to stop it and it didn’t seem like anyone cared.”
According to Statistics Canada, bullying is a monthly, weekly or even daily occurrence for tens of thousands of Canadian children. Anywhere from 14 to 39 percent of students (depending on the province) report being bullied at school in the past month. That ranges from physical bullying (hitting, kicking, punching, pushing) to verbal bullying (insults, threats, slurs) to social bullying (gossiping, spreading rumours, exclusion). (Stuart Foxman, Reader’s Digest Magazine, February 2009)
RELATED READING: Bully Beatdown okay for Canada, TV council rules
GLSEN: “Carl liked football and basketball and playing video games with his little brother,” Walker testified. “He loved the Lord and he loved his family. What could make a child his age despair so much that he would take his own life? That question haunts me to this day, and I will probably never know the answer. “School bullying is a national crisis, and we need a national solution to deal with it. That is why I am here today. Teachers, administrators and other school personnel need additional support and clear guidance about how to ensure that all kids feel safe in school. Congress can make sure they have that guidance and support by making anti-bullying policies mandatory in all of our nation’s schools.” The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require schools that receive Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act funding to implement a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that enumerates categories often targeted by bullies, including race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and others. It also requires states to include bullying and harassment data in their state-wide needs assessments reporting. Sirdeaner Walker Testifies Before House Subcommittees in Support of Safe Schools Improvement Act
Judy and Dennis Shepard
MShepard Foundation: In 1998, Judy Shepard lost her son, Matthew, to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate. Turning tragedy into a crusade for justice, and determined to prevent Matthew’s fate from befalling others, she established The Matthew Shepard Foundation to help carry on his legacy. Activist speaker Judy Shepard has appeared in two Human Rights Campaign advertisements urging an end to anti-gay violence and promoting a greater understanding of gay issues. She is also actively involved with Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). In this capacity, she has written an open letter to schools across the country urging officials to make schools safer for gay students by promoting acceptance and diversity.
Most recently, Judy Shepard authored the New York Times best-selling book, The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed, a moving, intimate look at how her life, and the entire fight for equal rights, changed when her son was killed. Speaking from a mother’s perspective, Judy Shepard has made the prevention of hate crimes the focus of her efforts, and urges her audiences to make their schools and communities safe for everyone, regardless of their race, sex, religion, or gender identity and/or expression. Matthew Shepard Foundation
Judy Shepard (née Peck; born 1952) is the mother of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at University of Wyoming who was murdered for being homosexual. She and her husband are co-founders of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and an advocate for LGBT-rights.