Preven­tion key to bul­ly­ing di­a­logue

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial -

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

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