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Should Ottawa adopt a national bullying strategy?

Categories: Politics

NDP MP Dany Morin has introduced a motion to the House of Commons to develop a national strategy to prevent bullying of Canadian youth following the suicide last week of B.C. teen Amanda Todd.

Morin and Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, spoke on CBC Radio's The House this weekend.

"Since I got elected a year ago, I had to rise too many times in the House of Commons to note the suicide of a bullied youth," said Morin.

Findlay, a mother of three, said her daughter has received death threats over a social networking site from other girls she went to school with.  

"One of the chilling results of that was how little empathy or sympathy we got from the parents of the other children who were involved in this, and I was very struck by it at the time," said Findlay.

Findlay also noted that some parents objected to school intervening in bullying that was happening online because it did not occur on school property.

In the comments of our story, the CBC Community has had a wide variety of reaction to the story.

  • "First thing you need to do is get rid of the term bullying. It makes it sound childish and playground-like. Let's call it what it really is: harassment. Put the laws in place so that courtrooms, police departments and school boards will have a point of reference. Then, create real consequences for offenders and especially repeat offenders," said Vandallay.

  • "Sorry to disagree with a good comment, but I have suffered both. I have been harassed by many people. I was bullied and the difference to me is that harassment is something that does not include violence while bullying ensures that violence or the threat of it is part and parcel," replied Filthy MacNasty.

  • "First of all, I'm sorry to hear you've been a victim of harassment. I've been there, too. You mentioned physical violence. As soon as violence occurs, it's no longer harassment (or 'bullying'). Violence is assault and now we're in a whole different category. Assault is actually quite easy to address. Harassment and intimidation are much more covert," replied Vandallay.

  • "We need the government to legislate against bullying? Seriously? And what exactly are the guidelines and framework for what constitutes 'bullying'? I'm sorry that this particular 26 year-old MP was bullied when he was younger. But I don't think the federal government should get involved in it. Leave it to local school boards and principals and teachers and parents," said Trajan.

  • "Leaving it to the local school boards, teachers and parents hasn't been working very well so far. Why do you think they're going to do any better in the future?" replied cactusflower.

RosieTheRioter wrote:

"I want everyone who reads this article to remember the following: Amanda Todd's video chronicled the effects of "years of online bullying and physical assaults at school."

"Where were the teachers when these physical assaults were taking place? Where were the police? Bullying is not just a bunch of kids standing around calling each other names. It includes behaviour that, among adults, would lead to assault charges.

"If we're serious about stopping bullying, we need to stop using the old excuse that kids will always be kids. Assault is a crime. We need to recognize it as such *and* treat it as such when it occurs. We need to send a clear message to kids that if they perpetrate the crime of assault, their actions will bring serious consequences down on their heads."

And Ajsharon said:

"Putting bullies in jail is a short-sighted response. Consider a hypothetical - If I was being bullied, reported it, and it resulted in jail time for my teenaged harasser, the problem would hardly be resolved. Instead, the friends of the original bully would just escalate their harassment, out of anger for their friend.

"As well, the bully would hardly be rehabilitated - placing them in prison would only expose them to more serious young offenders, where they could very reasonably pick up worse tendencies.

"Instead, our approach to tackling bullying needs to focus on prevention. Serious and repeated classes in elementary school, examining the effects of bullying on victims, could be very beneficial. Using real world examples, such as the ones found in the article above, would add real-world weight to these classes. As well, in serious cases, victims must be referred to counseling services as well, with follow ups. Victim services such as these may well have prevented many of the tragedies noted above."

What do you think? Should Ottawa pass this motion calling for a national bullying strategy? Or is bullying best dealt with at the local level? Let us know what you think.

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: Community, internet, Politics, POV

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