Anti-bullying organization may be forced to close

An anti-bullying organization says it will cease to operate next month unless it receives donations from the public.

BullyingCanada needs donations to operate beyond November, co-founders say

An anti-bullying organization says it will cease to operate next month unless it receives donations from the public.

BullyingCanada, a nationally-registered charitable organization based in Fredericton, currently provides a 24/7 telephone support network, anti-bullying workshops and a scholarship program for youth.

"Without the financial support of citizens across Canada, we simply will not be able to keep up operations," co-founder and co-executive director Rob Frenette stated in a release.

"Bills are coming in with no way to pay them. We need the public’s help," he said.

BullyingCanada does not receive any government or United Way funding, said Frenette, a former victim of bullying who successfully lobbied the provincial government to create an Anti-Bullying Day and was named a member of the Order of New Brunswick last year "for his tireless devotion to and passionate commitment to ending the spectre of bullying in our province and all across Canada."

The organization's monthly costs are about $5,000, he told CBC News.

As it stands, the organization does not have enough cash flow to operate at a full capacity for the month of November, Frenette said.

"The organization will have to evaluate its current operations schedule and long-term goals if an influx of donations are not received soon," he said.

Frenette is hoping both citizens and businesses will come forward with donations, which are tax-deductible.

"This isn't about putting money in our wallets," said fellow co-founder and co-executive director Katie Neu.

"It’s about getting the funds we need to save and change the lives of Canada’s youth — not only for today but for tomorrow as well," she said.

The charity's 24/7 support line receives nearly 10,000 calls monthly, while about 5,000 youth use the website's online support every month, according to the release.

Last year, BullyingCanada received $40,325 in donations.

This is only its second year of operation as a registered charity, although it has been operating since 2006.

Up until this summer, it was run entirely by volunteers, but Frenette and Neu have both started collecting a minimum-wage salary, according to the statement.

Faced criticisms

In June, the organization came under fire from education officials and NB Power.

Frenette was criticized for going public in April about a bullying case at Woodstock Middle School just four hours after notifying the school principal.

At the time, Frenette told CBC News that he only gave school officials four hours before issuing a news release because that's what the parents wanted.

Meanwhile, NB Power officials said they had been unable to substantiate Frenette's allegations that 400 to 500 employees had called the BullyingCanada hotline to complain about bullying at the Crown corporation.

Frenette later modified his claim, saying the number of calls was accurate, but not every call was from a different person.

Bullying incidents

There were several high-profile cases of bulling across the province earlier this year.

In one case, a teenaged boy in Saint John was facing charges after lighting a girl’s hair on fire.

A Saint John mother came forward about her 13-year-old son allegedly being pushed around by other students in the centre of a so-called bullying circle.

A Fredericton teenager was pulled from school by his parents after he was subjected to months of degrading harassment by another student.

And a Fredericton mother has come forward to describe how, three years ago, she hired a bodyguard to protect her daughter, who was being bullied at Fredericton High School.

In May, the Alward government introduced some long-awaited initiatives to crack down on bullying in schools across the province.

They included amendments to the Education Act to put greater emphasis on prevention, investigation and taking action when bullying occurs; the hiring of two anti-bullying co-ordinators; and the creation of an anti-bullying week.