Amanda Todd & Vanessa Disbrowe prove “rules” or “laws” will not stop bullying.

There is an old saying — talk is cheap. Just ask Vanessa Disbrowe (see video at this link).

The reason bullying is in the news is because we are hearing of horrible cases like the tragic death of Amanda Todd. Amanda’s story is heartbreaking. Worse yet, even after her death, the bullying (and now fraud) apparently continues. How truly pathetic the lives of those who are doing this! On that aspect of the story, Dr. Dawg has an excellent post providing some reasons why some individuals bully. (See also updates 1 and 2 at the end of this post.)

The reality is, however, as Michael Den Tandt wrote in yesterday’s Calgary Herald, until there is the will to do something about it, nothing is going to change.

So, what did we do when we were children?

Well, I can remember clearly my parents telling me to fight back. And, so I did. I was about ten. A male, who was large for his age, would pick on children smaller than himself. At some point I became his victim of the week. Since the school wasn’t doing anything to stop him (because he was no longer on school property went the refrain, which sounds very familiar), two of my female friends and I decided to fight back. We arranged that they would walk home from school across the street from me, crouching behind cars so the bully wouldn’t see them. Then, when the bully creeped up behind me and started hitting my head and back and trying to grab my bag, my friends ran over and the three of us went after him until he ran away. Memories that long ago are fuzzy but from what I can remember, that particular bully never bothered anyone else after that.

Today, it seems school officials only “talk” to the bully and his or her parents. They may suggest counselling, which is certainly doing something. But, unfortunately, if the parents are permissive and don’t ensure the bully goes for the counselling, the bullying continues. Meaning, rules and legislation are meaningless when they are not accompanied by some kind of enforcement (or treatment).

Read this CNews story by Shawn Jeffords about Vanessa Disbrowe (H/T JNW (#1), a 27-year-old mother of 4. She tried to stop a bully from beating up on a smaller child and was beat up herself, even though she was initially holding her baby.

The police were called. The police knew and know what happened. But, they did nothing, other than talk to the bully’s parents. The thing is, the bully is being protected by the Young Offenders Act. Her name cannot even be made public. The result? The bully is free to continue to intimidate the neighbourhood and the Disbrowe family had to make a very expensive move to another city. Given what Disbrowe says, the young female responsible for her bullying clearly needs help — that she is allegedly not getting.

Anyway, as I said at the start, talk is cheap. So, the crux of the matter is, without some type of counselling (which is much more than “talk”), enforcement and consequences, bullying incidents are not going to stop.

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Updates:

  1. I have added Dr. Dawg’s link on bullying repercussions and the notion of counselling.
  2. Given Dawg’s point about helping the bully (who are often bullied themselves), one technique that seems to work is Rachel’s Challenge.
  3. For some, that approach may sound too warm and fuzzy but, in my opinion, if it works, it is worth trying.
  4. Here, also is a Google search page with links to anti-bullying programs that allegedly work. The point is, they don’t seem to be making any difference with the authorities, such as with school principals and police, which is also what is needed to stop the bullying.
  5. Eight female high school students at a London, Ontario school were suspended and arrested yesterday (Oct. 18th, 2012) and charged with criminal harrassment for bullying a fellow student, including through cyber bullying. That is excellent news in that we are seeing some action by the authorities. We’ll see what happens beyond the arrest, but it is a good start — actual consequences. I think the final sentence in the London Free Press article by Kate Dubinski says it all.  “The intervention will support the victim.” Right on! (H/T JNW Afternoon Update, # 3)