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Kids Help Phone asks everyone to choose to make a difference in time for Bullying Awareness Week (November 12-18 2012)

TORONTO, Nov. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - Bullying can happen almost anywhere - in classrooms, on the schoolyard, on sports teams, and even at home, especially now as text messaging, social media, and online forums become a major part of how we communicate, reach out to each other and connect.

This November, Kids Help Phone is asking everyone in Canada to do something about all types of bullying by sharing this message through their social media networks and email signatures:

Bullying: it happens. Choose to make a difference. Stand Up. Step In. Reach out.  Tell someone, or tell Kids Help Phone.

Bullying Awareness Week runs from November 12th to 18th. Empowering young people to stand up to bullying is not always easy. But we can all make a difference in the lives of young people everywhere when we take action like learning more about bullying; raising awareness about supports that are available to young people; and uniting to take a stand against bullying.

In a 2011 survey, Kids Help Phone found that, "as young people abandon email in favour of phone-based text messaging, text messaging [is now] the second most common platform for cyberbullying." Where social networking once was once ranked third, it now comes in first.

Adults must recognize that technology is an integral part of young people's lives and is here to stay. We now know that cyberbullying can't be solved simply by restricting young people's access to cell phones, computers, or other devices; often, the youth end up feeling alienated and alone instead.  Many young people say that they don't tell their parents about cyberbullying because they are afraid of losing their technology privileges.   

Kids Help Phone sought-after expertise

In May of this year, Kids Help Phone was an intervener in a case presented to the Supreme Court of Canada and the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights advocating to protect the anonymity and confidentiality of young people who are cyberbullied. The organization stood up on behalf of children and youth to reinforce to the Canadian government that:

  • Cyberbullying has become an increasingly pervasive and damaging form of bullying. It also tends to co-occur alongside other forms of bullying, extending a young person's experience beyond the schoolyard and other outside environments and into the home.
  • Canada should support environments where young people are encouraged to report cyberbullying in a safe manner, without fear of retaliation.
  • We must create physically and psychologically safe spaces for all young people within the school environment, and especially for certain groups that have been shown to experience higher rates and more negative outcomes because of bullying, such as young people who are or are perceived as LGBTQ.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that young people, merely by their age, need their identities protected in order to access relief from cyberbullying.  You can read the entire Supreme Court decision here: http://scc.lexum.org/en/2012/2012scc46/2012scc46.html

Did you know:

  • In 2011, Kids Help Phone saw a 10% increase in calls during Bullying Awareness Week
  • The average Canadian elementary classroom contains at least one or two students who have experienced bullying
  • 10% of the contacts Kids Help Phone receives over the phone and online relate to bullying
  • 65% of youth who answered a Kids Help Phone 2011 survey reported that they had been cyberbullied
  • 35% of youth who answered another independent Kids Help Phone online survey said they witness bullying on a daily basis, including at school, after school, and online.
  • 1 in 5 middle school students report avoiding restrooms at school due to fear of being bullied.
  • 87% of students in grades 8 to 10 reported witnessing school bullying in the past year.
  • Bystanders can stop bullying:  Studies have shown that bullying stops within 10 seconds more than half of the time when a bystander intervenes.

What Kids Help Phone is doing to support anti-bullying initiatives and Bullying Awareness Week - and how you can join in:

  • During Bullying Awareness Week, gather with the kids in your life and take some time together to visit kidshelpphone.ca's new content on bullying and cyberbullying. The kids and teens websites will feature refreshed content for kids who have been bullied, witnessed bullying or have engaged in bullying themselves; new clinically-endorsed interactive games; and tools and resources designed to help young people plan for their own safety until they are able to reach out.
  • Kids Help Phone joins Family Channel as the network celebrates its 10th annual Bullying Awareness Week with a comprehensive campaign encouraging Canadian students to Join the Stand UP! Network and stop bullying in their communities. Visit www.family.ca/StandUp to pledge to Stand UP! bullying pledge and download anti-bullying resources.
  • On Monday, November 12, listen for the radio-release of "True Colours." Seven prominent Canadian recording artists - Jacob Hoggard (Hedley), Pierre Bouvier (Simple Plan), Lights, Kardinal Offishall, Alyssa Reid, Febe Dobson, and Walk off the Earth - cover Cyndi Lauper's classic hit to raise awareness about bullying and raise money for Kids Help Phone. The song will be available on iTunes on Tuesday, November 13, with proceeds from each download benefitting Kids Help Phone.
  • On Friday, November 16, Family Channel will also air a bullying special at 5pm EST featuring Kids Help Phone professional counsellor Caitlin Parsons. The special will be followed by an evening of bullying-themed programming.
  • Tune in to TVOKids on Monday, November 19 for a special edition of the Help Zone. Kids Help Phone counsellor Duane is co-hosting and he'll be answering kids' questions about bullying. Starts at 4pm EST.
  • On Tuesday, November 20, the Toronto Argonauts host the Huddle Up Bullying Prevention Program presented by Tim Hortons, an anti-bullying initiative in Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto. A Kids Help Phone counsellor will be there to answer questions from kids and to hand out materials to the 1,000 young people expected to attend. To conclude the Bullying Prevention Day, recognized writer and speaker, Barbara Coloroso will share her insights on the bully, the bullied and the bystander; the evening starts at 7pm with a panel discussion featuring a student, parent, school administrator, police officer and a Kids Help Phone professional counsellor.

What our professional counsellors are saying

"Kids Help Phone hears from many young people who are impacted by bullying," says Alain Johnson, Clinical Director, Kids Help Phone. "Some of the youth who call us are experiencing bullying, others are bystanders, and some are bullies themselves. Empowering young people is important, because it helps them to change their situation. When we remind them that they have a choice to tell someone, to ask for help, or to reach out and be there for a friend or a classmate, it can make a big difference."

Bullying:  Tips to help make a difference

  • Educate yourself about all types of bullying: this includes verbal bullying, physical, social (e.g., gossip, purposely excluding others), cyberbullying, racialized and homophobic bullying (e.g., bullying someone based on the colour of their skin, or perceived sexual orientation).
  • Talk about cyberbullying. Help kids understand that making negative comments online or via text message is hurtful, and that once those comments are made, they can exist online for a long time.
  • Encourage them to be assertive, not aggressive. Fighting doesn't help anyone.
  • Openly communicate that you will not take away their technology privileges if they confide in you that they are being cyberbullied.  This is not the answer and will only make them less likely to tell you if something is happening to them.
  • Be supportive. Don't minimize what your child is going through. Listen to your child and try to understand the impact the bullying is having on them, and assure them that you are on their side.
  • Encourage young people to do activities that they enjoy and that help them to feel good about themselves, such as a favourite sport or hobby.

About Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone is a Canadian and world leader, known for our expertise in providing vital, innovative, and professional counselling services to children and youth. Since 1989 we have offered children, teens and young adults in Canada a critical lifeline of hope and support, through our free, anonymous and confidential service. Our professional counsellors support the mental health and well-being of young people ages five to 20, in urban, rural, and remote communities, by providing one-on-one counselling, information and resources online and by phone. Our internationally recognized, award-winning websites are considered a model of child-focused interactive design, and offer online counseling forums and engaging, therapeutic games, tools and information to encourage resilience and self-care. A community-based national charity, Kids Help Phone receives no core government funding and relies on community and corporate support to keep our essential service available. We're available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in English and in French.

To learn more about Kids Help Phone, please visit www.kidshelpphone.ca.

You can also follow us at:

www.kidshelpphone.ca/facebook
www.kidshelpphone.ca/twitter
www.kidshelpphone.ca/youtube

SOURCE Kids Help Phone

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