It is the start of another school year and as excited as I am to be back teaching full time, I know there are young people (and some adults particularly teachers and administrators), who are cringing about starting another year that may be filled with bullying and cyberbullying. Security measures are being put in place but Principals are already getting phone calls and emails from irate parents who are disappointed about some school policy change or the fact that their child did not get into the class they wanted. Some parents keep bullying teachers and administrators until they get what they want…sad but true. So today I am reposting a blog I wrote in 2010 about the insidiousness of bullying. Perhaps if we get the message out early this school year, there will not be as many victims walking the hallways of our schools!
It was 1996 and my daughter came off the bus for what seemed to me the 100th time, crying. No amount of coaxing would get her to confide to me what was bothering her but I noticed that over a few short months, my vivacious, happy-go-lucky girl had changed in appearance and personality. Always an extrovert, now she barely talked. Always a child who loved to wear bright colours, now she dressed in blacks and greys. She wouldn’t meet our eyes when we talked to her. Her marks at school plummeted. We talked with teachers, we met with the principal, but somehow we couldn’t break through some kind of “code of silence” that prevented her from sharing what was bothering her.
Finally one day I got a disturbing phone call from my daughter’s piano teacher. Not wanting to betray confidences, but still concerned that this was something that could not be kept from us, the piano teacher told me that Laurelle had confided in her that she was the victim of bullying. Laurelle then confessed that she did not know what to do and she was starting to think that the only way out of the bullying nightmare was to take her own life.
I was in a state of shock and panic. I remembered that Laurelle had a diary and I did something I never thought I would ever do…I invaded the privacy of her room and ransacked it to find the diary. Sure enough, on each page, written in her fine hand, were picture words of the torment my child faced just walking down the hallway of her school. Name calling, shunning, books knocked out of her hand, pushing, shoving, ostracizing. She would be tripped, pushed into her locker, laughed at and ridiculed. The bullying didn’t stop at school, it continued on the bus. She was called every known expletive demoralizing her spirit and her character.
I just sat on her bed, reading her words, and I wept. I wept because of what my child was going through and I wept out of guilt not realizing what was happening to her, and rebuking myself that I hadn’t added up all the signs and stepped in much, much sooner to help her.
When my daughter came home from school that afternoon, she was appalled and angry with me for invading her privacy, and reading her personal thoughts, but I did not apologize for that. I wrapped my arms around my child as she wept out of shame, humiliation and fear for her circumstances and then I told her she was “not alone anymore”.
I knew when I began my writing career that I would have to address the topic of bullying in my books. As a teacher and a youth leader and a parent, I have seen what bullying can do to a young person.
Recently I contacted Bill Belsey, President of Bullying.org Canada. Bill happens to live right here in Cochrane, and I thought since my books, Shoot the Wounded, Heal the Wounded and Love the Wounded deal at length with the topic of bullying, I wanted to be able to link our two websites so that we might bring even more exposure to this insidious topic. Bill eagerly wrote back, enthusiastically approving of the idea. Since then, both my books have been selected as “Helpful Resources” on what some consider the largest anti-bullying website in the world. I invite my readers (especially parents of teenagers) to go to Bill’s award-winning Web site: www.bullying.org and spread the word: Help STOP Bullying!
Bill Belsey is the father of two teenagers and a classroom teacher. He founded Bullying.org Canada over a decade ago. Mr. Belsey is a winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Technology. He is also a recipient of the Royal Bank Fellowship from the Mathematics, Science and Technology Group at Queen’s University and the Roy C. Hill Fellowship for Innovations in Education from the Canadian Teacher’s Federation. In May 2006, Mr. Belsey received Canada’s National Technology Innovations Award from The Learning Partnership and his presentation “Change the World 101” was given the “Conference Award” as the most outstanding work presented during the entire gathering. In October 2006, Mr. Belsey was named as a Fellow of the World Technology Network in the Education category at a gala event at San Francisco’s City Hall. At this same ceremony, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore was inducted as a Fellow in the Environment category and Tim Burners-Lee, one of the co-creators of the World Wide Web, was honoured in the Internet category.
In November 2007 he was recognized with a nomination for the YMCA Peace Medal. Mr. Belsey was asked to offer his input into the United Nations International Research Study in Bangkok on Violence and Children. His print interviews have appeared in Parenting Magazine, the Globe and Mail, and the Christian Science Monitor. He has appeared numerous times on the CTV and CBC National News. He has been a consultant to “The Dr. Phil Show” and ABC News 20/20 with Diane Sawyer and “Anderson Cooper 360” on CNN. In an interview with Mr. Belsey on CBC TV’s “The National”, Peter Mansbridge referred to http://www.bullying.org as “One of the best Web sites in the world for children”.
Mr. Belsey, who now lives in Cochrane, Alberta, with his wife, Helene (also a teacher), and two teenage children, decided to return to the classroom. He currently teaches grade five at Springbank Middle School for the Rockyview School Division. To check out his students’ innovative work, do a Google search for “Canada’s Coolest Class” then click on “I’m feeling lucky”, you will be directed to www.coolclass.ca.
He is a much sought-after speaker and presenter on the topics of bullying, cyberbullying, technology integration, innovation, community development and global education. He has presented at many conferences across Canada and around the world.
Let me share Bill’s response to me:
Thank you for your message, for sharing this information about your writing and for your concern about the issue of bullying. I would be pleased to have you make links from your Websites to mine. You can also add your book(s) on www.bullying.org by using the “I Want to Share -Submit a Helpful Resource” option.
FYI, I am a father of two teenagers and a classroom teacher, see www.coolclass.ca and/or http://is.gd/eZfxV. I founded Bullying.org Canada over a decade ago. Bullying.org Canada created www.bullying.org, a multiple award-winning Web site that was developed to help people address the issues of bullying within a safe, positive, moderated international community. www.bullying.org is a supportive online community where people can learn that they are NOT alone in being bullied and teased, that being bullied and teased is NOT their fault and that they CAN do something positive about it. People can contribute their personal stories, poems, images, oral stories (audio files), music and even animations and movies. All of the original submissions and the replies to them are read and moderated by real people to ensure that the Website is a safe and respectful online community. www.bullying.org also has a “Helpful Resources” section that features a huge listing of articles, books, legislation and policies, research and multimedia resources. www.bullying.org also has the worlds first and largest online moderated support groups for adults and youth. The Web site receives nearly one million visitors and contributors from around the world each month and is often listed as the number one “bullying” referenced Web site in the world by Google and many other Internet search engines.
www.bullying.org has been chosen for the ChildNet International Award that goes to project that make the Internet a better place for youth, as well as being a finalist in the Stockholm Challenge Award which has been called the Nobel Prize of the IT (Information Technology) world. In an interview I did on CBC Television’s “The National”, CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge referred to www.bullying.org as “One of the best Web sites in the world for young people”. www.bullying.org has been featured by other media around the world.
Bullying.org Canada is also the creator of www.cyberbullying.ca, the world’s first Web site specifically dedicated to the emerging issue of cyberbullying, in fact, I have often been cited as the first to use this word and define this new behaviour.
We are also the founders, creators and facilitators of the annual National Bullying Awareness Week. We would like to encourage you, your organization, and your community to participate. Please invite others to visit http://www.bullyingawarenessweek.org for more information.
Middle or high schools in your area, you can encourage them to join the Bullying.org Peer Power Youth Presenters Network. We have a research-based multimedia CD along with an accompanying script they can use to practice with and then make arrangements to come and have these older students present to your younger students. It is very powerful and effective. The cost is only $5, which pays for discs, envelopes and mailing costs. The main commitment is finding a teacher at the local middle or high school who will agree to work with the older students prior to their presentation at your school. Please visit http://www.bullyingawarenessweek.org and click on the “Resources” Web page link for more information.
We are also the creators of the groundbreaking Website, www.bullyingcourse.com. This new educational resource offers affordable online courses and Webinars (online presentations) for educators and parents about bullying and cyberbullying. Here’s what www.bullyingcourse.com offers:
-Webinars: These are online multimedia presentations you can order and include in your next Professional Development Day, conference, Parent-Teacher Association meeting or community gathering. All you need is a computer, access to the Internet, a multimedia projector, projection screen, speakers and you are good to go! They can be paused, played and replayed to meet your schedule throughout the day you have ordered the presentation for.
-Online courses: These non-credit courses are self-directed introductory courses intended for personal and professional learning and growth. You proceed at your own pace. 100 level courses are offered on a continuous basis throughout the year. 100 level courses have no enrolment limit. 100 level courses are assessed as Complete or Incomplete. A certificate is issued upon successful completion of these courses. At the 100 level, we currently offer E101, an introduction to Bullying for Educators, see http://bullyingcourse.com/mod/resource/view.php?id=226 and P101 course for parents, please see http://bullyingcourse.com/mod/resource/view.php?id=225 for more information.
Here is some feedback from a recent E101 course participant:
“I recently completed the Introduction to Bullying for Educators E101 course and found this to be a very valuable learning, theoretical and practical experience. As a student teacher I have found that this serious social issue has been overlooked in my teaching preparation courses. I highly recommend that teachers, student teachers and other professionals working with children attend this course. This is my first online course and I found the course very easy to navigate. The content provided in the course is appealing to a variety of learners and the use of multimedia enhanced my learning. Most importantly, I found the course assignment to be practical and something that I can use as I begin my teaching career. The assignment of creating my own anti-bullying action plan truly brought the course to life for me. Having completed the assignment, I now understand how I can respond to, prevent and advocate
against bullying in the classroom, school, community, workplace and worldwide web environments. Bullying is a topic that every person is faced with at some point in his or her life. As teachers, it is our professional responsibility to
understand, prevent and respond to bullying so that supportive, encouraging and caring environments are available to all children at school. This course is a great place to start this understanding and develop our own anti-bullying action plan, which can be implemented in our own schools.”
We have created a free brochure in PDF format that you can download that contains many ideas as to how students, teachers and parents can use www.bullying.org as a safe, supportive, free, non-commercial, and deeply engaging multimedia teaching and learning resource. This can be found online at:
Here is a free copy of our famous “Take the Pledge” anti-bullying poster you may download, print and distribute for non-profit, educational purposes:
Here is our video that accompanies our award-winning “Take the (anti-bullying) Pledge” campaign:
If you would like to learn more about the presentations we offer, please visit:
You can learn more about Bullying.org Canada at:
You can learn more about what people are saying about our work at:
You can read the latest “Friends of Bullying.org Newsletter” online at
Please help us by sharing this information with others.
I appreciate the opportunity to share these links with my readers today.