Yellowknife students rise above bullying

William McDonald School students spoke about bullying and what they are doing to make their schools a safer place at a Pink Shirt Day event at the Legislative Assembly. Emelie Peacock photo
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“Cyberbullying affects 42 per cent of Canadian youth each month.”

“Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year, 64 per cent of the victims consider bullying a normal part of school life.”

“72 per cent of children witness bullying at school and only 40 per cent do something about it.”

“Researchers say that bullying usually ends within 10 seconds of an intervention of others. 26 per cent of teens have suicidal thoughts because of bullying.”

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“Youth who are bullied suffer more headaches, stomach aches and cases of depression and anxiety. Mental health problems also tend to last until later in life.” 

These were some of the realities shared by William McDonald Middle School students at a Pink Shirt Day event at the Legislative Assembly Wednesday, organized by PSAC North.

“The only way to combat hate is with love,” was the message Caroline Cochrane sent to students as she recounted her own experience with bullying.

Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Caroline Cochrane spoke to students at a Pink Shirt Day event at the Legislative Assembly February 27th. Emelie Peacock photo

The territorial politician says she felt ashamed for a very long time from third-degree burns on her legs as a result of being in a fire at age seven.

“All of the children laughed at me, they called me a monster, and I hated myself for it,” she says. “I carried that into my teenage years, all the years as I grew up I never wore a short dress because I was ashamed. Ashamed of what my body was because of bullying.”

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The Me To We group at William McDonald Middle School shared the actions they are taking on anti-bullying, including a $1,500 grant they received from a video they created, a survey on bullying, and an art project on rising above bullying.

“Everybody comes together wearing pink shirts, and it just really supports anti-bullying,” says Mariah MacIntosh of the meaning behind Pink Shirt Day.

“No one really wants to have a bad day, or to have people talk to them in a really bad way. And if you do raise awareness, people will feel better,” says Kaina Garcon.

These actions are all to combat the issues they see in their school. Solaya Meserah-Zdyb says she sees mostly verbal and cyberbullying at the middle school level, physical bullying comes later in high school.

She says parents should be in the know about the conversations their children are having online. And to check in with them regularly.

“I’d ask ‘how’s the social media going? Are you OK? Are you feeling OK?’,” she says of how parents can approach these types of conversations.

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