Bullying awareness continues to be a priority for local schools and the Fort St. James RCMP are dedicated more than ever in helping provide education to help reduce bullying.
Cyberbullying cases in particular are on the rise and Craig Houghton, principal from Fort St. James Secondary School says that about 80% of bullying cases involve cyberbullying.
“It seems to be the most difficult and most harmful,” Houghton said. “And it does not just stay within the schools. It spreads.”
For Houghton and for the RCMP, it’s all about education.
“We try to educate everyone when it comes to cyberbullying including those who bully and those who have been bullied. These incidents are taken very seriously,” Houghton said.
For the RCMP, it’s important to begin education young.
“So many kids have internet access through phones, tablets and computers and much activity goes unmonitored,” Sgt. Poppy Hallam of the Fort St. James RCMP said.
“The RCMP continues to participate in bullying and cyberbullying education. The D.A.R.E. program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) also covers bullying and our officers take time for presentations around internet safety depending on the needs of the school and classroom.”
According to Hallam, there are cases where youth create fake facebook accounts and other social media accounts using false birthdays to get around the minimum age requirements. They are on these sites chatting and even sharing nude photos, some of which constitute as being child pornography.
“These things can go unreported as parents are often unaware and kids are embarrassed to talk about it when they’ve been victimized,” Hallam said.
Here are some key messages regarding bullying/cyberbullying according to the RCMP:
– Youth, parents, school administration and the law enforcement community all have a role to play to ensure the safety of students in schools.
– It’s important to remind everyone to do what they can to keep their schools bully free and to report any acts of bullying or assist those who are victims of bullying.
– Young people should also be encouraged to approach teachers or other adults they trust if they are experiencing bullying and are not comfortable speaking with their parents. The problem can only be rectified if the person affected comes forward.
– The RCMP has school resource officers who are continually promoting how youth can protect themselves against bullying
– The RCMP also promotes school safety and information through deal.org, a “youth for youth” initiative created as part of the RCMP’s support of its youth strategic priority.
– A number of helpful resources are available to youth and parents through the www.deal.org website. This includes facts on what bullying is, why people bully, who they target and how parents can deal with their child, whether they are being bullied or are the ones bullying.
– A number of links to useful information on bullying produced by ojter organizations can also be found on the feal.org website.
Internet Safety prevention tips:
– For parents, it’s important to monitor your child’s use of the internet. Encourage them to have open discussions with you and prevent them from resorting to internet chatrooms.
– Report and e-mails or internet content that seems suspicious or has violent content or threats.
– Remember that everything you read on-line may not be true, however, if you have suspicions that threats being made are real, tell authorities and report the situation.