In recognition of Pink Shirt Day, Judy Bond, the local service centre co-ordinator, invited volunteers to the office to learn about the Red Cross’ violence prevention programs. Led by its Beyond the Hurt program, the Red Cross does not tolerate bullying any day of the year.
The workshops and training of Beyond the Hurt are part of a comprehensive planning model for prevention education. The program works with youth organizations, schools, sports and community groups to assist in building the community’s capacity to respond to bullying and harassment.
The program began with Bond going into the classroom setting, but that was adapted to create a peer-to-peer message delivery. The effort has included the training of 20 guidance counsellors and teachers throughout the Western School District who, in turn, have trained a group of student leaders who pass the message along to their classmates.
This approach has not only been determined to be more effective, but also sustainable, said Bond.
Bond has seen the need for a change in attitude in local schools and communities. Speaking to about 10 people gathered at the office on Main Street, she recalled a conversation with one teacher in a local school.
“She said, ‘Why are you here? We don’t have any bullying in our school,’” Bond said. “She was either in denial or had no understanding of what bullying means.”
Bond also provided some startling statistics pertaining to bullying, including that one in three students are involved in physical bullying monthly, while 16 per cent of Canadian youth admit to posting one of more hateful comments, while 14 per cent have been threatened while instant messaging.
Bond said cyberbullying is one of the biggest problem areas in today’s age of technology. It makes the message of renewed effort, stepping up the work, and moving forward with more vigour and determination that much more important, she said.
The Red Cross’s RespectEd initiatives also includes the C.A.R.E. program, which focuses on preventing child sexual abuse through education.