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John McKiggan Q.C.
John McKiggan Q.C.
Attorney • (902) 423-2050

Childhood Memories Show Lasting Effects of Bullying – More needs to be done

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Nova Scotia recently enacted anti-bullying legislation after receiving the recommendations of the Cyberbullying Task Force. You can read my article about the Task Force report: More Needs to Be Done in Nova Scotia to Protect Children Against Cyberbullying.

Childhood Memories

Recently my wife and I had dinner with a childhood friend of mine and his wife. During the conversation the topic of bullying in schools came up and my friend and his wife told us a story.

They went to dinner at a restaurant here in Halifax. When they sat down for dinner, my friend recognized the manager of the restaurant was someone he and I had gone to school with almost forty years ago. Throughout the meal, my friend recounted to his wife how the manager (when we were children) had regularly tormented and bullied him. Needless to say, my friend’s wife said it was not a very pleasant meal.

However, after their meal ended the manager came to their table. He introduced himself and said: “I don’t know if you remember me, but we used to go to school together. I know I wasn’t very nice to you when we were kids, and I wanted to tell you how sorry I am for the way I behaved back then. I hope you will accept my apology.”

Needless to say, my friend was “floored”. He told the manager he accepted his apology, and my friend and his wife left the restaurant.

What I thought was interesting about this story was not the fact that my friend remembered being bullied by this fellow 40 years after it had happened. Studies of bullying victims have shown that the abuse can have lasting effects.

What I found interesting was that the bully in this case was self-aware enough to realize that what he had done as a child was wrong, and forty years later he was remorseful about his behaviour.

It's obvious that bullying may have lasting effects on the victim. But few of us realize it can have also effect family members, friends and in some circumstances even the abuser as well.

Social Networks Increase Bullies Reach

Experts generally identify three types of bullying:

  • Physical bullying: Studies conducted in Canada, Europe and the United States report similar findings. Roughly 10 – 15% of students between the ages of 11 – 15 were involved in incidents of physical bullying on a weekly basis. Boys were twice as likely as girls to report incidents of physical bullying.
  • Verbal bullying: Between 10 – 15% students reported being victims of verbal abuse. Girls and boys were found to participate equally in this form of bullying.
  • Social bullying: In a recent Canadian study, 41% of students in grades 4 – 7 reported having been victims of bullying over a social network (more than double the number of children who report being victims of physical or verbal bullying). The same study indicated girls are more likely to be victims of social bullying and to use social networks as a form of bullying.

It appears that the explosive of growth of online social networks like Facebook, Myface, Twitter, Skype, and OoVoo have resulted in an increase in online “social bullying”.

I have posted some tips and advice about protecting your children from bullying online on my Halifax Personal Injury Lawyer Blog: check out Cyber Bullying: Keeping Your Child Safe Online.

Online Resources

Public Safety Canada has published a number of resources for parents, educators, and the public to address the growing problem of bullying.

Media reports of youth suicide attributed to bullying prove bullying is a real and serious problem that can have life-long and sometimes fatal effects. As parents and concerned citizens we need to educate ourselves and others about these issues so that we will be in a better position to reach out to our children who have been victims of bullying, and to educate our children so that they will not take part in this type of harmful and hurtful behaviour.

National Approach to Curb Bullying

Canada’s Education Ministers met here in Nova Scotia this month, and one of the items on their agenda was strategies to deal with bullying. While the Ministers all agreed that bullying was a significant problem and needed to be addressed, chances are slim that there will be a coordinated national strategy to deal with the issue: National Strategy on Bullying Called Unlikely.

We need to tell our political leaders that more action is needed to curb bullying and address it’s effects on our children and youth. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

2 Comments

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  1. Right Now says:
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    This is more evidence that bullying is a national tragedy affecting young people across America and effecting them long term!

    We all need to take action against the source of bullying and let kids, parents, teachers, principals and politicians know that bullying is NOT okay. We all need to do something to make a difference.

    An amazing young singer-songwriter named Becca Levy is doing just that.

    She has started a music based anti bullying group called Right Now.

    Here’s a link to her website that has a video of Becca covering “Right Now” by Van Halen. The purpose of the video is to promote awareness to kids using both music and the Internet. The video begins with a public service announcement and is full of statistics that people of all ages need to see.

    Becca lives in Washington, D.C. and just turned sixteen years old.

    Rightnowagainstbullying.com

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    Hi there:

    I took a look at your website. Great use of social media to reach out to teens.

    All the best and good luck with your fight against bullying.

    John