Categorized | Community

We Must Act Now to Stop Bullying

Posted on 24 April 2013 by admin

Parm Gill, M.P.

Brampton Springdale

It seems not a week goes by without a high-profile case of bullying in the news. Youth who have been tormented by their peers, often with tragic consequences. As a society, we cannot allow incidents like this to continue to happen, and must work together to make harassment and bullying of this kind a thing of the past.

Bullying, sadly, has come a long way since my generation was young. What was once contained to school yards has entered the digital age. With the rise of cyber-bullying, these children have no escape from their harassers. While once limited to schoolyard taunts & threats in the hallways between classes, bullies now have the ability to prey on their victims using social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. This spreads their message to a larger audience, bringing more individuals into the fray, and increasing the feelings of isolation felt by victims.

This inability to avoid their tormenter has sadly led to many of these children being feeling lost & alone, and far too many have made the tragic choice to end their lives in the hope of making the pain stop. No child should ever feel that there is no escape from their torment, and

When asked about the recent high-profile case of cyberbullying involving Rehtaeh Parsons, a young girl who was sexually assaulted at a party & tormented online when photographs of the assault were circulated, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “I think we’ve got to stop using just the term bullying to describe some of these things. Bullying to me has a kind of connotation … of kids misbehaving. What we are dealing with in some of these circumstances is simply criminal activity.” Prime Minister Harper is absolutely correct in this statement, and it speaks to how easily social media technology can cause bullying to spiral out of control. In the case of Ms. Parsons, the taunting from classmates regarding the assault became too much to bear, and she took her own life.

Bullying has, in some form, always existed in schools and groups around the world. What we see now, with cyber-bullying, goes far beyond kids simply being mean to each other. We see children and youth harassing their peers in a way that cannot be seen as anything less than criminal. It will take efforts from all levels of government, school boards, community groups and from parents to solve the problem that is cyber-bullying, and ensure those who engage in cyber-bullying face the full consequences of their actions.

This week, as we mark National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection has launched their You(th) Are Not Alone campaign in support of cyber-bullying victims. The Centre has also launched the website as a resource for children who are being victimized, with tips for handling the situation & reminders that they need not face this trauma by themselves.

We need to treat youth crime seriously, and we must never forget the victims. Our government will remain vigilant when it comes to protecting Canada’s most vulnerable individuals, our children, and will look for new ways to protect youth from this sort of harassment. My own bill, Bill C-394 is just one of the ways we’re working to protect our youth from those who wish to cause them harm.

In tackling cyber-bullying, we must all work together to prevent bullying in all of its forms, ensuring that no child is forced to suffer in silence. It will take a combined effort from government, school boards, community groups and parents to end the threat of cyber-bullying and ensure no child faces such harassment again.

Parm Gill is Conservative MP from Brampton-Springdale.

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