Shedding Light On National Bullying Prevention Month

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month, but bullying—and cyber-bulling—are problems children face every day, every month. The best way to help children and teens is by raising awareness and helping those who need it most. I wanted to talk about this issue because I have children in grade 3 and grade 6, and although they haven't faced any serious issues, I see that not all children are as kind as they should be when I'm volunteering at the school. I asked Ottawa's Stuntman Stu some questions about this issue, because he and the team at Majic 100 started the No More Bullies campaign—which has received great feedback from schools, the youth, parents, and the community. Although the program is currently on hold, there are ways we can still promote kindness and remind children and teenagers the importance of being kind—to everyone.

How did you come up with the No More Bullies campaign? What has the feedback been like so far? 

The campaign started by accident. Back in September 2011 there was a bullying story in the newspaper and we talked about it on MAJIC 100. I was shocked that this stuff still existed and told my own story of being bullied in high school. We spent all morning taking calls from frustrated parents and students and after the show I tweeted that If I have to visit every school to promote anti bullying, I would. Needless to say, after a few hundred re-tweets the idea was born. 

Although you're not currently touring schools in the Ottawa region, what are some important messages you deliver to students who are being bullied, and how can they get the help they need? 

First off, tell the teacher and if the problem continues (which is usually does) then ask to speak with the principal. It’s their job to asses the situation and find a solution. Sometimes that’s not always the easiest but you have to respect the process that the schools must follow. When I was growing up we were taught to just fight back and knock out the bully. I don’t want my kids, or any kids doing that, because it’s not the answer. Some people have been critical of my stance on that, but knocking another kid out doesn’t get you any closer to a solution. The bully needs to understand what they’re doing is wrong and the effect he or she is having on the victim. 

What are some tips you give to students and children who are being bullied?

First off, you’re being unfairly targeted and a bully likes to pick on someone for a variety of reasons. I’ve seen too many kids think it’s their fault for being picked on. You must tell someone, because if nobody knows they problem is going on then they can’t help you. 

I know I went through a period in middle school where I bullied... at the time, it seems like an impossibly hard place to be. What do you tell a child who feels overwhelmed at school, and doesn't know where to go for help?

There’s always someone who’s able to help. Kids Help Phone, the Distress Centre, YouthNet at CHEO, so many resources that are a click and phone call away. Parents, siblings and school officials are always there as well.

Do you address the people who are doing the bullying? What do you say to someone (or in general) if they are doing the bullying? 

I would sit them down with the person they’re picking on and explain the situation to them. Many times they don’t realize the damage their causing or scars they’ve left. 

Bullying starts from a very young age, with children picking on other children, whether it's about their weight, appearance, or just because they look different. I tell my children to always treat others the way they want to be treated, and to never make anyone feel excluded. If they see someone sitting alone, to go talk to them. What is the advice you give to your children?

I give my kids the same advice. We’re all different and we don’t make fun of someone for any reason. My kids are online now and I’ve explained that most times sadly, comments are nasty and they should never read into them and I don’t want to see them being negative on any site. 

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, Stu. It's great to have you and the station show your support to the community with the No More Bullies campaigns, and it's always a good time to sit down with our children to discuss these important issues. Nothing is easier than being kind.

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