First step in preventing bullying begins at home

At one point or another almost every one of us has been faced with a bullying situation.

Bullying never has a happy ending

At one point or another almost every one of us has been faced with a bullying situation.

Be it at school, in the playground, at the workplace or even in cyber-space bullying knows no boundaries.

And that’s what makes it so difficult to find a solution.

Teachers or supervisors can be extra-vigilant in the schoolyard or in the work place. Meetings and assemblies can be held to promote tolerance. But once the person leave the confines of school or work, it takes the efforts of other people to provide support and aid in the prevention.

The sad and disturbing story of Amanda Todd, the bullied teen who took her own life to end the torment, is one that is repeated far too often in today’s society.

With all due respect to our politicians, no amount of airtime in the House of Commons or televised angst by the premier of a province is going to have much of an impact.

Certainly it shows they care but for how long? We all know a politician’s attention span is only lasts until the next opportunity comes along.

There is no doubt New Democrat MP Dany Morin is sincere when he told the House of Commons more needs to be done to address the situation. But as usual, more from the federal level usually means an announcement that millions of dollars will be spent, committees will be created, ideas will be exchanged but at the end of the day somehow the money will be miss-spent and the ideas never implemented.

Past practices have shown it takes a long time for a government-pushed theme to filter down into the public’s consciousness.

Changing people’s patterns on smoking or littering took years of repeated public service announcements and high-profile advertising. It has happened but certainly not overnight.

Bullying won’t end tomorrow yet the first step in preventing it is right at our fingertips.

It doesn’t lie in the hands of the teachers, supervisors or politicians.

And I find it hard to believe the police would ever be able to convict someone of bullying, especially when it involves the intricate web of high school social scenes, the Internet and instant messaging.

The one surefire way to stem the tide of bullying begins at home.

There has to be some point in a parent or guardian’s life when they have to hold themselves accountable for the young people they send out into the world.

There has to be some sense of duty to make sure we aren’t raising a society of people who can anonymously harass someone from the comfort and protection of their family’s home.

It is the responsibility of any caregiver to make sure they not only provide the necessities of life but also an understanding of how to treat fellow human beings.

Too often we’re told, “Children mimic what they see and hear.”

It is so true.

If you fly off the handle or shout to vent or name-call someone who cut you off on the road, chances are some young ears have picked up on that as acceptable.

We have all vented out loud at one time or another. I guess the key is to be self-aware when those situations arise. Who is around? What impact am I making? What message am I sending to those around me?

If we hold ourselves accountable, that’s probably the best role model for anyone.

Kids pick up on those situations. And add to it the ease and speed such tirades can be directed through the Internet and you’ve unwittingly released a child on to the world with those same attitudes.

As a parent I know how hard it is to monitor what your child does on the computer. The older they get the more options they have to communicate. And as a parent of a teenage daughter, I am keenly aware of the amount of conversations that take place out of my sight and hearing. Even Superman, with his super hearing, would have a hard time keeping up with the endless message streamed throughout the day.

Our best option is to give our children the tools to avoid the pitfalls and be aware of the feelings of others. There’s no quick cure for this disease, which has spread exponentially since the advent of the Internet. The only solution is to provide the proper tools, in this case character traits, which can identify, avoid, prevent and speak out against bullying.

Once a generation has those tools, the tide against bullying will grow.

It won’t be thanks to politicians or a segment on 60 Minutes. But rather input from a child’s immediate support group that will be the greatest help of all.

The first step towards a solution really does begin at home. It’s just something to think about. I know I remind myself as often as I can.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times.

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