New Democrats call for national fight against bullying

When Dany Morin was being picked on in high school, there was no such thing as Facebook.

OTTAWA — When Dany Morin was being picked on in high school, there was no such thing as Facebook.

The taunting faced by teens these days is far worse that it was 20 years ago, the New Democrat MP said today as his motion calling for a national effort to fight the problem came before the House of Commons.

“Nowadays, with cyber bullying, with social media, it has gotten to a breaking point,” said Morin, whose motion comes in the tragic wake of a bullying-related suicide that has captured the country’s imagination.

The death last week of Vancouver teen Amanda Todd has served to shine a spotlight on the problem and expose the urgent need for a solution, Morin said.

“It is a nationwide problem and it is, unfortunately, only growing with time.”

It’s high time the federal government got involved in an effort to put a stop to bullying, said Queen’s University psychology professor Wendy Craig.

“A national campaign needs to focus on relationships — relationships between parents and children, relationships between all adults who work or are involved with children and with youth-to-youth relationships,” said Craig, the scientific co-director of Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet).

“We also need to focus on helping adults and youth identifying the signs of when someone may be experiencing bullying and help get them connected to adults for support and intervention.”

Currently a patchwork of programs and organizations exists to fight bullying, but the problem cries out for a co-ordinated approach, Morin said.

The NDP motion calls for the creation of a House of Commons committee to develop a national bullying prevention strategy that would examine the prevalence and impact of bullying and look for ways to prevent it.

It also urges Ottawa to support organizations that already work with young people, focusing on prevention rather than criminalization.

Todd, 15, posted a nine-minute video on YouTube in which she explained, through hand-written notes held up to the camera, how she exposed her breasts on a webcam to an unidentified man, and how those images ended up being sent to family and friends.

She described suffering anxiety and major depression, eventually turning to drugs and alcohol and trying twice to kill herself. The haunting video ends with her note: “I have nobody. I need someone.”

During today’s debate in the House, Conservative MP Kellie Leitch was among those who spoke on behalf of the government.

The Conservatives support efforts to prevent or reduce incidences of bullying, Leitch said.

But she questioned whether the NDP motion would merely overlap with two other parliamentary committees that are currently studying the same issue.

Other levels of government are also attempting to combat the problem, and already have programs in place that are working, said Leitch.

“All of these initiatives are commendable and significant in their own right. All are focused at the local level where we need to focus.”

Where the federal government can play a role is in crime prevention, Leitch said.

“The (federal) aggression replacement training initiative, for example, is geared to preventing violence among youth . . . and preventing school-based bullying,” she said.

Recent federal studies indicate that one in five children or youth have reported being victimized by bullies.

While his motion winds its way through the Commons, some simple things can be done now to help victims and to prevent further bullying, said Morin.

He urged young people facing bullying to reach out to parents, friends, anyone they can trust. And he pressed parents to be more in touch with their children.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Only 13 new COVID-19 cases confirmed by Alberta gov’t Saturday

There’s currently only two active cases in province’s central zone

Food Truck Fridays to start new Drive and Dash events next week

Events will be held in Westerner Park parking lot Thursday evenings, Friday afternoons all June

Alberta gov’t to expand mental health supports

The Government of Alberta says a $21.6-million investment will expand online resources… Continue reading

City of Red Deer encouraged residents to participate in Food Bank Ninja Challenge

The City of Red Deer is encouraging residents to participate in a… Continue reading

READER VIDEO: American White Pelicans spotted in Red Deer River

A Red Deer Advocate reader spotted a group of American White Pelicans… Continue reading

Protesters rally in Toronto against anti-black, Indigenous racism

TORONTO — Thousands of people are taking part in a rally on… Continue reading

Another COVID-19 case reported in northern New Brunswick on Saturday

CAMPBELLTON, N.B. — People from a city in northern New Brunswick lined… Continue reading

B.C. sees second day in a row with no COVID-19 deaths as schools ready to reopen

VICTORIA — British Columbia announced no new deaths from COVID-19 for the… Continue reading

UN sets pandemic voting rules for Canada’s Security Council campaign

OTTAWA — The United Nations has confirmed that the election for non-permanent… Continue reading

Police watchdog investigating death of Richmond man

RICHMOND, B.C. — British Columbia’s police watchdog has been called in to… Continue reading

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Tooting the importance of whistling

OK, so someone who tattles on another person is a whistleblower, and… Continue reading

Police see increase in speedy drivers on quieter streets during pandemic

Police across the country say they’ve been dealing with more complaints about loud, fast vehicles

Most Read