According to PrevNet, Canada’s national network of leading researchers and organizations, working together to stop bullying in Canada, “Bullying is a form of abuse at the hands of peers that can take different forms at different ages. It is targeted and repeated. It involves power, aggression, intimidation and shame. It preys on vulnerability and exposes both children who bully, and those who are bullied, to a number of social and mental health problems and a lifetime pattern of abuse. Any abuse – in particular the kind of abuse that can lead a child to contemplate suicide – is anything but harmless.” Lions Quest Canada is one of the original community partners of PrevNet.
How do we stop this bullying behaviour that seems to have reached epidemic proportions? At Lions Quest Canada we support caring adults who teach kids from day one that looking out for one another, being empathetic, being responsible for another’s well-being and treating others as we would like to be treated is the norm. We support teaching children that threatening, mean behaviours or excluding others will not be tolerated. That it is not funny, fair or productive to pick on each other to gain power and that the gifts and sparks that make us unique are things to be celebrated and encouraged, not personal traits to be ridiculed and repressed.
We advocate for the teaching and modelling of positive behaviours for our children in our homes, their preschools, their classrooms, their activities and their communities. We support parents who are looking for positive ways to raise their young children. We work with preschool professionals who teach children how to fill each other’s buckets every day with positive actions and that taking from someone else’s bucket or ‘bucket dipping’ is not right. We help our young people build positive values, social skills and positive identities in our schools by providing them with support, opportunities for empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and constructive use of time.
Millions of dollars are spent on projects and programs about bullying that are put into place once our young people reach middle school or high school. By this point it is often difficult or too late to change these habits. The impact of the effort often depends on the ability, commitment and relationships of the person who is the champion at the heart of it. Efforts based on one person’s or family’s experience can be powerful for starting the conversation or drawing attention to the behaviours but sustaining that effort can be costly both financially and emotionally.
Wouldn’t it be great if the same code of conduct followed us from our homes to our pre-schools to our elementary schools through to high schools and post secondary on to our daily lives? Share – take turns – try hard – look after one another – encourage one another – respect one another and that bullying behaviour will not be tolerated.
Lions Quest Canada has worked in schools and communities across Canada for almost 30 years now, and over the years we have worked diligently to address concerns related to children and youth around drug use and now bullying. We have seen many projects and programs come and go based on the whim of government or the passion of a grieving community.
What we know to be true from years of evaluation and study is when children and youth are equipped with the skills, knowledge and experiences to help them build positive habits that bullying behaviours, harmful risk taking like drug use, early sexual activity and violent actions all decrease. We also know that maintaining good health, valuing diversity, success in school and leading and helping others increase when these building blocks of development are in place.
How does Lions Quest Canada make this happen? We build community capacity around children and youth. We take the lead to bring our communities together. We use the same concepts that have been at the heart of our Lions Quest School-Based Programs for almost thirty years to reach out in support of our parents, our youth leaders, our coaches, our teachers, our agencies and other caring adults to use that same code of conduct – share – take turns – try hard – look after one another – encourage one another – respect one another – and that bullying will not be tolerated in our community.