Teens share bullying tales in video booth
CBC News
May 24, 2012

Bullyproof project sparks emotional confessions

For a week in the spring of 2012, CBC-TV's Connect with Mark Kelley set up a video booth in a school in Gatineau, Que. More than 150 students streamed into the booth to pour out their personal anecdotes about bullying.

They revealed an array of raw stories from all perspectives ? the bully, the bullied and the bystanders ? as well as how they try to "bullyproof" themselves. Explore their stories here and what's being done to tackle the problem.

From insults to humour: Coping strategies for bullies
When a bully strikes, figuring out how to handle the attacks is no easy task.

Debra Pepler, a psychology professor at Toronto?s York University, did a study in 2007 that asked kids how they try to cope with bullies.

What she found was almost half of the respondents tried to ignore the bullying. About one in five reported not doing anything, while most said they tried at least one strategy.

Girls were more likely to get help to stop the bullying, while boys preferred using humour, physical aggression or revenge, her study suggests.

Other techniques included:

  • Distracting the aggressor.
  • Insulting the bully or other verbal responses.
  • Hitting the bully or other physical responses.
  • Telling someone, such as a parent, friend or school staff.
  • Standing up to the bully verbally, in an assertive but rational way.

But what?s the best way to handle bullying? Pepler, who also co-directs the national anti-bullying organization PREVNet, says emotional responses were more likely to lead to continued bullying.

Meanwhile, a more rational response ? standing up to or ignoring the tormentor ? is more likely to "deescalate" the attacks.

"The children who can stand up and be assertive are able to control themselves, and they have a bit more ability to cope," says Pepler.

But the longer the bullying went on, the harder the students felt it was to stop the attacks. And that?s why Pepler argues it?s important for adults to step in.

"Unless adults support children and youth, students are likely to do nothing and gain a sense of helplessness."

How society tries to deal with the problem

Schools, governments and parents all tackle bullying in different ways. But can society fix the problem?

A 2010 World Health Organization report suggests that the incidence of bullying of children is actually on the decline, possibly thanks to reduction efforts and changing attitudes.

It found that direct interventions by school staff greatly reduced bullying, but classroom activities, like anti-bullying presentations, can aggravate it. Government support through public awareness campaigns can also help, the study said.

Here?s a sampling of recent anti-bullying initiatives:

School programs
In 1993, Judi Stevenson, a school principal in B.C., tackled the bullying problem with an acronym: Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out and Seek help.

Since then, the WITS program can be found in more than 150 schools across Canada and the U.S.

Created by Mary Gordon, Roots of Empathy brings babies into classrooms to teach students about kindness.

The concept has been exported to the U.S., New Zealand and Ireland.

In 2004, the Manitoba government created the Safe Schools Charter, which forces school boards to keep provide a secure environment for all children.

In November 2011, Ontario introduced the Accepting Schools Act, which, if passed, would force all boards to create anti-bullying programs.

Quebec followed suit in February 2012 with Bill 56.

Grassroots initiatives
Perhaps the most famous anti-bullying project in recent years is It Gets Better, which started with an online video by gay columnist Dan Savage and inspired clips by everyone from comedian Rick Mercer to U.S. President Barack Obama.

In November 2011, Toronto teen Jacques St. Pierre took the concept further by creating I Will Make It Better, a youth-led group that?s helping schools stop harassment -- and got a personal endorsement from pop star Lady Gaga.

Anti-bullying resources

For Students

For Teachers

For Parents

  • PREVNet. Bullying prevention tips, signs of bullying and ways to tackle it.
  • Cyberbullying. How to tackle cyberbullying and a guide to online acronyms.
  • Be Web Aware. How cyberbullying works and tips for handling it.

B]For Everyone[/B]