Posted on 21 November 2012 by Mathew White
With the recent suicide of Port Coquitlam teenager Amanda Todd, National Anti-Bullying Week has gained a whole new meaning this year.
At Osoyoos Secondary School (OSS), members of the student parliament have arranged “We are the Change Week” to coincide with National Anti-Bullying Week.
Student parliament prime minister Jenna Riznek said having the week labelled as “We are the Change” puts a positive spin on a week that is usually associated with negativity.
“We called it ‘We are the Change Week’ because it kind of brings unity,” said Riznek. “It doesn’t separate a victim and a bully. It brings everyone together as a community rather than as a fight.”
To encourage positivity around the school, the parliament organized a full week’s worth of activities for the student body.
The fun started Tuesday during the morning announcements with a few helpful facts.
“We started telling everybody different facts on the announcements, like 10 seconds of intervening stops a bully from continuing to harm someone,” said Mykaela Coty-Scholl, deputy prime minister at OSS.
As the day continued, student parliament began to sell special bracelets to all of the students. The bracelets all have a link printed on them, directing students to the website www.stopabully.ca – an anti-bullying website out of Summerland.
During the lunch hour, the Grade 8 and 9 students were all invited to a workshop to make their own tie-dyed shirts.
Riznek said this is a great way for the students to bond and form relationships that will last throughout their time at OSS. Having these shirts means these students will always share a positive memory together, she said.
“It was really to give the kids something to wear as a group,” she said. “It kind of gives them a sense of community since they’ve all done this workshop together. This is going to be their high school for four or five more years and a shirt is something they can wear throughout high school.”
Tuesday’s activities wrapped up with members of student parliament writing positive affirmations on paper hearts and posting them on students’ lockers.
“We made over 400 hearts and decided to take quotes from movies or anything like that,” said Coty-Scholl. “The one on my locker is, ‘love more, worry less’, and so we’re trying to get all aspects of bullying – promoting the fact that we should care more about people instead of just judging the physical aspects of them.”
Moving to Wednesday, which was dubbed “Be the Change” day, the students continued to make tie-dyed shirts, sell bracelets and promote kindness.
Thursday brought about the annual “All Pink Day”, which had dozens of students and staff members dressed in bright pink. The pink movement stems back to an incident in Nova Scotia several years ago, where a student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school and hundreds of his fellow students donned something pink the next day as a show of support.
Today, schools all around the world wear pink as a unified voice against bullying.
Finally, the week’s activities wrapped up Friday morning, where a multi-media production focusing on bullying was shown to all the students during an assembly.
“We put together a multi-media presentation that can help students use different words to stop bullying without bullying,” said Coty-Scholl. “We interviewed several students who gave us their version of what a bully is and different words that they don’t appreciate as well as phrases they would like to hear more of.”
Both Riznek and Coty-Scholl said that living in such a technological age has really changed the landscape of bullying. They agreed bullying really has moved from out of the classrooms and hallways and onto the Internet. Cyber bullying, they said, is the normal medium for bullying these days.
“Cyber bullying, I think now is the most powerful,” said Coty-Scholl. “We’re not the type of people who are face-to-face most of the time. I think now bullying is in the shadows more and I think people feel more empowered being behind a computer.”
Riznek added bullying has always been a cowardly act and sitting safely behind a computer screen is the most cowardly way of doing it.
As far as what to do to avoid these types of situations, both said it’s just a matter of being “Internet smart” and aware of your privacy and knowing that whatever you put on the Internet will never go away.
Finally, both stressed that it is of the utmost importance to seek help whenever you may need it, even if all you need to do is talk to someone.
“Don’t think that you’re helpless or alone, because so many people go through this,” said Riznek.