To the editor:
Dear principals, teachers, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board and Lakehead District School Board:
You’re about to be exposed to the horrendous amount of cyber bullying happening today in our schools. That’s right; I am not asserting this is only happening in one school or pinning it on one person in particular. I could very well show you hundreds of examples of children who are carrying out these criminal acts daily. It’s not hard to find the evidence all over the Internet these days.
In other words, it’s time to acknowledge that every school has a problem on their hands. Some of our young students who are carrying out these devious acts of cyber bullying are able to hide it, and sadly, victims are also clever at pretending everything is OK. It’s not OK. It’s never OK to bully. If the principals and teachers don’t acknowledge there is a cyber-bullying culture then they don’t have to deal with it. This is allowing the bullies to continue operating. Some children are too frightened to go to school or they are getting physically ill at the thought of going to school. Yet the principals and teachers are doing just that. Letting these young students get away with bullying, turning a blind eye to this massive social epidemic.
Let’s just nip that in the bud. You’re in a position of authority and power. Each and every one of you have a moral obligation to stand up, speak out, and help the victims of this tragic situation in our community. But that doesn’t mean you will be able to eliminate bullying completely, you won’t.
In fact, a teenager might not tell you there’s a problem or could say someone is “harassing” them instead of “bullying” when describing the behaviour. Most young students will take matters into their own hands fearing you’ll get mad and take away their technology such as their cell phones. They could also find it embarrassing to have an adult involved.
Understand that our students have rights and they need to be protected from those who are willing to break the law. You cannot continue to be silent about such a big issue. We all make mistakes and I can empathize that our students are at the delicate age where they are coming into adulthood. You need to set an example as adults and not just by modeling the behaviour you expect of them. If you want them to learn from their mistakes, you need teach them that what is happening is unacceptable.
It’s time to expose the truth and start telling our stories because I can guarantee every student with a cell phone is currently involved with or has been entangled in some form of cyber bullying.
And finally, keep this letter on hand and look at it once in a while. Not because it is the end-all-be-all of cyber-bullying wisdom. In truth, it’s just another piece of advice being launched in your direction. At some point in your career, you’re going to need a gentle reminder that you have an obligation to our children, to guide them in the right direction, to help them make the right decisions. The sky is not falling but our children are falling below the social norms.
Remind yourself that our children are our future.
Opinions may differ. Perhaps you will take offense to this letter. That’s alright. Just pick up what serves you, and compost the rest.
Lisa G. – Mother of four students