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Make bullies pay the price

The recent tragic death of Amanda Todd – a B.C.

The recent tragic death of Amanda Todd – a B.C. teen who committed suicide following physical abuse and Internet intimidation – has highlighted the need for new solutions to the modern-day bullying that continues to impact communities across Canada, including right here in West Central Alberta.

Todd took her own life after posting an Internet video highlighting her plight. The video has garnered worldwide media attention, prompting debate and discussion at the national, provincial and local level.

Finding ways to stop bullying has been something stakeholders have been struggling with for many years.

In the past, schoolyard bullying was simply a matter of catching the bully or bullies in the act and confronting them face to face about their actions.

Today the phenomenal growth of email and other social media, particularly by young people, has created new avenues for bullies to operate behind a virtual screen of anonymity.

It's time for new anti-bullying strategies to meet the new generation of bullies.

As the school level, the Alberta Liberals have come up with one good solution – stop tolerating bullies altogether.

“A message needs to be sent to bullies - this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and Albertans won't tolerate it,” says Liberal education critic Kent Hehr. “All too often the focus seems to fall on the victim. Let's flip it around and make sure that every schoolyard bully knows that we have a zero tolerance policy for any type of bullying.”

At the national level, MP Dany Morin has put forward a private member's bill calling for a national anti-bullying strategy.

“It's a problem that's national and that's unfortunately growing,” Morin told the House of Commons. “Yes, I was bullied when I was young, except that in my time there was no Facebook or social media.”

MPs of all stripes should be encouraged to follow Morin's lead and bring forward a national strategy aimed at ending bullying.

At the community level, ordinary citizens should be encouraged to follow the lead of the Alberta mom who recently helped track down an Ontario man who posted hateful comments following Amanda Todd's death – leading to the man's immediate termination from his job.

Whether it is face to face or through social media, bullying is a dangerous crime that destroys the lives of innocent people, including vulnerable youngsters such as Amanda Todd.

As such, it's high time for the former message that “Bullying isn't right so please don't do it” to be replaced with a new message: “If you bully, you'll pay hard for it.”

Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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