Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


Intimidation and bullying ... When will it stop?
True North Perspective

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

I have been following the Rock Dagenais case ever since he was arrested for entering a Buckingham elementary school last April, armed with a sawed-off .22 rifle, 100 rounds of ammunition and a hunting knife tied to his ankle. I wasn’t expecting what this 26 year-old man would tell the court.

His reason for doing the unthinkable ... Apparently, Rock snapped after hearing his aunt complaining about him not doing his chores. After this confrontation, he says he relived his parents’ divorce and the many moves and school transfers he went through afterwards. He admitted to being beaten and bullied after school when he was young and that his teachers told him to put up with it. He also confided that he was sexually abused by his stepfather.
Rock Dagenais explained why he forced his way at the Saint-Laurent elementary school on April 19th: he wanted to talk to students from Grades 4, 5 or 6 about the damaging repercussions of bullying. He wanted to inform children, not harm them. Bullying can ruin lives and he was at the point where he would or could have committed suicide! He is very sorry for the trauma he caused at the school.
  Alberte with young writers last June.

You won’t believe how that resonated with me! Last June, I gave a writing workshop to a group of Grade 3 girls from the local school. They chose intimidation and bullying as the theme for their story. They were aware of the repercussions of intimidation and bullying ... Yet it often goes unchecked and has even gone viral with today’s easy media access.

Bullying has always been a social scourge with all age groups. School children do it. It happens within certain family units and the workplace and it always has negative repercussions. It creates victims and can lead to an explosive situation!
I remember as a child coming home from school alone one day. Boys from my country school suddenly appeared, riding their bicycles. They had picked up some wild apples and started pelting me with them. There was no reason for this ... Just sport! I knew I couldn’t outrun them so I crossed the ditch, climbed the fence and went into my neighbour’s woodlot. They teased that they had seen my panties and sent me running. I said I didn’t care! At least I was safe! I don’t remember if I told my parents, probably not. Nothing was done about the incident! There had been no reason for this incident ... Just sport! Mean-spirited sport! Someone’s twisted idea of fun! But, it could have had devastating consequences ... And what if it had become a daily thing?
Back to the writing workshop! When the girls chose “Sans Raison” – No Reason - for the name of their fictitious school, I thought: “Wow! How appropriate! Bullying makes no sense. It is just plain mean!
On the farm, I often observed how hens could pick on a particular chicken and peck it to death. Mr. Bouchard, from Gadi Farm, commented on the fact that humanlike behaviour can be observed in his “volarium”.
But humans should be more intelligent than chickens! Why do we let bullying happen over and over? It can be prevented! It is our duty to protect those who are more vulnerable. I remember, as a teacher, stopping a fight between two Grade 8 boys. The more aggressive boy had pinned the other one to the ground and was slamming his head against the pavement. My yard duty companion panicked and yelled, “Don’t get involved! We’ll send for the principal!” By that time the victim could have suffered a brain injury. I intervened. Fortunately, the aggressor stopped. This is so often the problem! People don’t want to get involved. Worse, some people will watch and cheer.
Lately, my grandson refused to take part in aggressive games that had started on the schoolyard. This all came to a head last week when two younger students were roughed up by older boys ... One of them was hurt.
We need to take a stand against violence! My grandson did.
As adults, we need to give our children tools to deal with intimidation and bullying. Turning a blind eye, keeping it secret or covering it up will only allow the problem to persist and get worse. Let’s talk honestly about the problem of bullying and how it can impact the life of the child who has been bullied over and over again. Children of all ages need guidelines ... They need to understand the difference between fantasy and reality. They need to understand the invisible, emotional damage that can be caused by intimidation, bullying and violence. Children need to practice care and compassion.
They also need protection ... There needs to be adequate supervision when children are together. The policy of zero tolerance when it comes to violence must be upheld.
I am incredibly proud of the six young writers who chose to write about the subject. Intimidation can, at times, be very subtle but it is just as potent and damaging. It can destroy a person’s self-image and self-worth. Their story “Le génie de Jessie” is so timely! So timely indeed that the book will soon be published and launched in October.
If I could ask the genie from Jessie’s story for a final wish, it would be that the book be used as a tool to promote open discussion and prevent intimidation and bullying. This way, young men like Rock Dagenais won’t have to go around with a sawed-off gun to be heard; less teenagers will end up on the street because they have been bullied or abused and no one would listen or come to their rescue. This is my wish!


Excellent article! Pertinent et bien écrit. Bravo!
L'ajout de liens à l'actualité et à des expériences de différentes générations est riche et motivant... pour donner le goût de faire quelque chose. Quelque chose de plus que lire l'article et le livre seulement pour soi. Ça donne le gout de le faire rayonner. D'agir. Merci aussi au True North Perspective de le publier. Où pourra-t-on trouver une version française de cet article?!?
Merci, Alberte!

Merci, Lise! En effet, "Le génie de Jessie" a plein de potentiel et va certainement encourager le dialogue, la prise de conscience et des mesures de prévention. Comme quelqu'un me disait aujourd'hui, pour arrêter les guerres il faudrait peut-être commencer par éliminer les petites guerres qui se font au quotidien.

P.S. Tu me donnes le goût de traduire l'article. Donc, à surveiller...

Bravo aux six auteurs et à toi Alberte! L'intimidation, c'est criminel. C'est important de réveiller les enfants, les adolescents et les adultes au respect (res-paix), à la courtoisie, à la compassion, à la tendresse. Réfléchir sur le sujet, en faire un livre, très bonne idée. J'espère que "Le génie de Jessie" touchera le coeur de plusieurs élèves.


Parfaitement d'accord, Lysette! Je fais le même souhait: que le message du "Génie de Jessie" amène les gens de tous âges à réfléchir avant d'agir et de toujours agir dans le respect de l'autre. Merci!

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