"She and her friends waited for me after school and followed me all the way home. They yelled mean things and threw rocks and garbage at me. This has happened almost every day. I don't know why they don't like me."
"He laughed at my drawing in front of the whole group. I was so embarrassed. He does this to a lot of kids in class or on the bus and no one stands up to him. We're all afraid."
"I helplessly watched as my classmate was stabbed with a pencil. I didn't get help partly because I don't want to be the next victim. I tried to act as if it wasn't a big deal. I feel like I have to be mean n order to fit in."
These are examples of some of the stories told by boys and girls in elementary schools throughout Calgary. Such incidents of bullying occur every day in every grade in every school. The seriousness of bullying is increasing while the age of children bullying is decreasing. Some believe that bullying is just a normal part of life at school. However, repeated aggression intended to arm another person who is weaker and less powerful can be devastating to the victim.
The impact of bullying can have long-term effects lasting well into adulthood. For example, an 84 year old man stated he could remember every word the bullies said and has been hearing their bullying jeers all his life. In other serious cases of bullying, victims have even attempted or committed suicide in order to escape the torment.We know that children learn their best when in a supportive, caring environment, free from physical and psychological harm. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many children in our schools.
On average two children in every classroom spend their day afraid and in need of help.School Consultants at Calgary Family Services recognize the seriousness and complexity of school violence and are implementing the Dare to Care: Bully Proofing Your School program. This program is funded by the City of Calgary's Department of Family and Community Support Services for two years. Consultants have worked closely with teachers, administrators, students and parents to initiate school-wide intervention in over 40 schools.
Parents and school staff using the Dare to Care program have been very successful in creating a safer environment for children.Children and adults are indicating there is less bullying now and people seem to care more for each other. Some examples of bullying prevention and intervention strategies include the following: School staff are developing discipline policies on bullying. This policy should identify consequences that encourage a child to change a bullying behavior into a caring behavior (for example writing a report on an altruistic leader or observing and recording acts of kindness on the school playground).
As one parent wrote, the benefits of this program are life-long and our children deserve this education now, to carry them throughout their school years and beyond.For more information on the Dare to Care: Bully Proofing Your School program, contact Calgary Family Services at 269-9888. * For reading materials, please refer to Bully Proofing Your School (1997) by Carla Garrity, Kathryn Jens, William Porter, Nancy Sager & Cam .
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