I’m on vacation, I’ll be back next week. However, this letter to the editor of the Burnaby Now entered my social media feed, and much to MsNWimby’s lament, I had to take a few minutes to pen a retort. I thought of sending it to the Burnaby Now, but I thought it would look weird for a New West City Councillor to get something like this published in a Burnaby newspaper, so instead I’ll just post it here.
Letter: Why can’t bullied kids just get with the program?
Editor: Last weeks’s Burnaby NOW had a letter from Diane Gillis raising important questions about why pedestrians don’t work harder to protect themselves from getting hit by cars. I think it provides a great platform to offer similar safety tips for youth suffering from another well-identified danger in today’s society: schoolyard bullying.
It does not matter who is right and who is wrong in schoolyard bullying – it is the bullied child who is at greatest risk of injury or psychological trauma.
Sadly, there are too many children who do not understand or know of what they can do to avoid bullying. I chair the communications subcommittee of my local Concerned Parents of Athletic and Cool Children chapter, and we coordinate anti-bullying messaging for our children, and those who do not qualify. At the November CPACC meeting, we discussed ways to reduce bullying.
All children should consider these anti-bullying safety tips.
- Wear more attractive / fashionable clothing so the cool kids will not notice your lack of flair. If wearing professional-sports-team-branded clothing, be especially aware of the sports franchises preferred by the local cool kids.
- Don’t go to places where bullies hang out, like malls, schools, or outside.
If you have to go to those places, look out for bullies.
- If you see a bully, run away really fast.
- Don’t make eye contact with bullies.
- Don’t use your phone and/or headphones, or carry anything of value while walking where bullies might spot you.
- If a bully approaches you, hand them your lunch money and beg for mercy.
- Wear a helmet.
Something I think is telling. Yesterday afternoon at about 3:30 p.m. – just after school gets out and when most kids were playing sports or hitting the Mall – as I was driving past a schoolyard in Burnaby, I saw a skinny, nerdy kid getting taunted by a group of pretty cool-looking kids.
When I saw his Minnesota Wild t-shirt, his last-year’s Walmart Nikes, wire-rim glasses and his clarinet case, it was all I could do to stop from yelling “Hey Nerd!” and slapping the little loser myself.
There is a lot more to the concerns of many of us regarding keeping all kids safe from bullying. And as long as we can continue to blame the victim, none of us will ever have to recognize our own personal responsibility to keep our community safe for all, or even acknowledge what the real dangers are.