Bits and Bites on Bullying

Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Stop Bullying … Inspire instead of intimidating

Harper Conservative political bullying offers poor role model for our children

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

  A Genie for Jessie, cover
  A Genie for Jessie, by Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair. For more information, click here. To order a copy, click here.

10 May 2013 — I had the privilege of participating in the Seventh Annual Caring Across Communities Forum at the Centurion Conference Centre in Ottawa in April.

A Genie for Jessie, my children’s book on bullying was ready in time for this special conference by Dr. Larry Epstein, Ph.D, director of School-Based Services for Think:Kids at Boston’s Massachusett General Hospital.

Dr. Epstein’s theme 'Creating a Positive, Bully-Free School Climate' was a perfect fit for my book that runs along the same lines. Identifying the basic dynamics involved in bullying, describing the key elements of a comprehensive, universal bullying prevention program, identifying specific strategies that can be used with bullies, targets, and bystanders/upstanders and describing strategies to use in situations of relational aggression and cyberbullying were on the agenda.

Bullying comes in many varieties: physical, relational, verbal or written aggression, intimidation, sexual harassment, ethnic harassment, cyberbullying… and all can have damaging, even devastating consequences. One needs only to be reminded of the latest case in which the young Rehtaeh Parsons of Nova Scotia hanged herself after enduring months of merciless bullying when a photo of her being raped was posted by her alleged rapists. Bullying does not only impact the victim and the perpetrators but also their families, friends, social network, school and community, near and far. It then becomes obvious there must be a timely response at different levels to observe, understand and come forward with solutions before the worst happens.

Dr. Epstein inspired me and renewed my desire to be part of the solution. After 32 years of teaching and going through an abusive marriage, I have directed my writing towards reaching out and giving a voice to those silenced by threats, violence, manipulation, exploitation…

What troubles me is that bullying is present in our daily lives. Think of the latest scandal: “Canadian Human Rights Tribunal boss bullied her subordinates”. Mario Dion of the Public Sector Integrity Commission wrote in his report: “Ms. Chotalia, during meetings and in the presence of other employees, behaved in a way that was belittling and humiliating towards individuals…”

Why are these people in positions of power if they have no empathy, if they do not care for human rights? Who put them there?

This brings me to the Conservatives’ TV ads! If that’s not outright cyberbullying of the worst kind, I don’t know what else you can call it! How could the Conservatives stoop so low for a third time? This very party has been caught in more scandals than we care to count, it is secretly changing the laws that govern our country, it cheated during the last election, lied to us and smeared our reputation at the international level. So how dare they run nasty attack ads again? They used erroneous statements, attacked Justin Trudeau’s experience and made fun of the fact he has a teaching background.  Bullying is not acceptable at any level! I hope teachers, parents and social workers across Canada react.

Teachers are the builders of society … talented educators who spend the most time with our school-age children during the week. They stimulate their minds and inspire them to become better human beings. They are role models who care.

This extreme Conservative bullying sends the wrong kind of message to our kids. And making the same mistake twice, three times isn’t a mistake anymore, it’s a calculated choice. Conservatives must communicate positively or shut up!

P.S. A special invitation! Join me at Books on Beechwood (35 Beechwood Ave.) on May 25 (10 a.m. to noon). Let’s talk about A Genie for Jessie and bullying. For more information, go to my website