Bullying is an international scourge. It takes place in playgrounds, on social media and even classrooms around the world. In Canada, one in seven children between the ages of 11 and 16 has been bullied. Globally, 1.5 billion children experience violence, including bullying, every year, according to some estimates.
To draw attention to this global problem, Canadians will mark Bullying Awareness Week from November 15 to 21. One of the most effective ways to stop bullying in its tracks is for others to “stand up” to it when they see it occurring. Often, that’s all it takes to halt the harassment.
Former Canadian Olympic gold medalist in freestyle skiing Jenn Heil is just one public figure now speaking out. “As a parent, I want my children to feel secure,” she says. “Bullying is a serious issue and thanks to all of us rallying together, we are building safer communities.”
Heil also worries about bullying in developing countries. She recently endorsed an anti-bullying school and community project helping more than 100,000 children in Kenya. “Many boys and girls there experience violence on a regular basis, and I want to help them have a chance to learn without fear,” she says.
The project encourages schools and communities to provide safe spaces for children. The initiative supports measures such as “speak-out boxes” where children can anonymously report bullying incidents and a 24-hour telephone and web-based helpline.
More information is available at www.plangifts.com.