The Issue: Bullying
We Say: Compassion matters

In this digital age, it’s easy to let the perceived anonymity we have online lead us astray.

People become armchair experts on a multitude of issues and rather than have a respectful conversation on subjects that they are passionate about, some choose instead to make cruel comments that detract from the original argument and really only serve to alienate people they were trying to sway to their viewpoint.

Cyber-bullying affects people of all ages, from youth in text messages and other forms of online communication all the way up to politicians being attacked for sharing their views on social media.

Anyone trying to use a position of power – whether that’s social status in a peer group, or a position of authority in a community – to intimidate, upset or otherwise harm another person physically or emotionally is bullying.

We know from many years of studies that bullying has serious effects on the people who are treated in such ways.

BullyingCanada’s website states “some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying can have long-term physical and psychological consequences … (including) withdrawal from family and school activities, wanting to be left alone, shyness, stomach aches, headaches, panic attacks, not being able to sleep or sleeping too much, being exhausted and nightmares.”

The advocacy website also reminds us that bullying doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it hurts bystanders as well, who may be worried that if they intervene they will be the next victim.

Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie described online harassment that extended beyond attacks to herself but also to her family members.

“That is painful … Nunavut is so small – it can ruin a person’s life,” she said.

“Children who learn they can get away with violence and aggression continue to do so in adulthood,” BullyingCanada states. “They have a higher chance of getting involved in dating aggression, sexual harassment and criminal behaviour later in life.”

Bullying in any form can affect learning, concentration and focus.

Pink Shirt Day was started in 2008, inspired by a 2007 “high school protest to wear pink in sympathy with a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied (for wearing a pink shirt).”

The organization behind the initiative, CKNW Kids’ Fund, touts 100 per cent of their net proceeds go toward “various organizations that support children’s healthy self-esteem, both with their peers and themselves.” These include Kids Help Phone and the I AM SOMEONE Ending Bullying Society that serve all Canadians, along with a number of B.C.-based charitable organizations.

“This Pink Shirt Day, our focus is working together and treating others with dignity and respect. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected us all and shown the importance of helping one another and advocating for those who need it. Help us ‘lift each other up’ and support programs that encourage healthy self-esteem and teach empathy, compassion and kindness.”

Every person has a choice in how they treat others. Let’s all do our part to be kind when possible, and show compassion in the face of the many challenges we come up against in our lives.

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