Everyone has an obligation to help stop bullying

Four children standing together smiling

In Ontario, November 15-21 is Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. OPSEU/SEFPO calls for an end to bullying – wherever it’s found and whatever form it takes.

Anyone who has been bullied knows how damaging it can be, with long-term consequences for psychological health, like low self-esteem, anxiety, learning problems, violent behaviour and suicide. These effects can be aggravated by the isolation we feel due to necessary COVID-19 measures.

On the International Day of Pink, OPSEU/SEFPO spoke out strongly against bullying when directed at gender diverse kids – again, made worse because COVID has restricted access to supports. Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week underscores the terrible harm that bullying can cause to children and also promotes learning environments free of hurtful behaviour.

That includes cyber-bullying. In recent years, we’ve seen more cases of online bullying, which takes abuse from the schoolyard into the home. This kind of victimization requires a special set of detection skills that all educators, parents, guardians and others who work with children must acquire.

When the spread of COVID-19 forced schools to shut down, the terrible reality is that, for some kids in Ontario, it was also a welcome respite from the cruelty and even physical violence they experience at school. This kind of living hell must stop.

Our members in Sector 3, Boards of Education and Cultural Institutions, are experts in creating warm, welcoming learning environments. They recognize the forms that bullying can take and know how to address it, in collaboration with school authorities.

But we can’t leave it to the schools to deal with alone. We must be equipped with the basic tools to detect and do something about it. The Ministry of Education offers resources on bullying, as do the province’s school boards.

This Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week, get informed. You may save the life of a child.

In solidarity,

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer