Prevention key to bullying dialogue
Bullying is not the victims’ fault so why are we putting the onus on the victims of bullying to find ways of coping with it?
From my experience in Cape Breton, bullying has never been taken seriously enough. The recent public dialogue on the topic is long overdue and very welcome, but it misses the mark.
The Nova Scotia government has pledged $192,000 for muchneeded mental health services in the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board. The money is earmarked for the hiring of two guidance counsellors and a social worker. This was among the recommendations of psychiatrist Dr. Stan Kutcher which are either being implemented or are under consideration by both the department of education and the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board.
While this is good news for victims of bullying and for students in need of mental health support, it does little to address the root cause ¬ the actual bullying.
Whether we are talking about face-to-face bullying or cyberbullying, the fact remains that there is a dire lack of accountability and virtually no deterrence. Bullies conduct their assaults with impunity, without fear of consequence and are protected by both the education system and the Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Now, even in the midst of public discussions and governmental reviews, the only recourse for the victims of bullying is to seek support in the form of mental health services, which would imply that the victims are suffering from some form of mental illness and need a professional to help them develop better coping strategies.
These support services are an unfortunate necessity only because we have allowed bullying to continue. The focus of public dialogue must shift from that of repairing the harm done by bullying to preventing the bullying in the first place.
Glen Murrant Leitches Creek