This week is marked as Bullying Awareness Week throughout the province.
Bullying by definition is the use of force, threat or coercion to abuse, intimidate or dominate others. It affects thousands of Albertans each day in not only schools, but also in workplaces, community groups and online through social media. Bullying is not unique to one age group, specific to youths, but spans from school age children to seniors.
Bullying Awareness Week was launched with the aim to increase awareness of bullying behaviours and their negative impacts.
“We all have a responsibility to stand up against bullying, create safe environments and promote healthy relationships,” said Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir. “Bullying affects us all and we need to work together to keep our communities safe. I encourage all Albertans to share the message: Be inclusive. Be kind. Be respectful.”
Our province was one of the first areas in Canada to recognize bullying as a societal issue over 10 years ago. In 2004 the Alberta Government hosted a round-table on family violence and bullying which has spawned numerous bullying prevention campaigns and initiatives.
What most of these campaigns and initiatives attempt to shine a light on is the distinct importance of developing and maintaining healthy relationships. Through the creation of these healthy relationships we can focus on interacting kindly and respectfully with one another.
Numerous events are being hosted throughout the week including the Post-It Forward campaign, where Albertans are encouraged to prevent bullying by using the small, sticky, colourful pieces of paper to share encouraging messages about people, students or organizations in their communities.
Students in junior high or high schools often participate in this campaign by plastering lockers and other common areas with Post-Its that contain small messages like things like ‘You’re Awesome’ or ‘You’re Beautiful’. It’s all done anonymously, just to brighten someone’s day.
Here in our community we can also take a stand against bullying, whether it is participating in the Post-It Forward movement or just vowing to be more respectful of one another.
If you are a victim of bullying or abuse, there is a 24-hour bullying helpline to call (1-888-456-2323). The helpline is a direct line to trained staff who are available to talk any time of the day. You can also visit the BullyFreeAlberta.ca web site.