Beyond the classroom: Bullying Awareness
Published Monday, November 19, 2012 6:51PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 22, 2012 6:45PM EST
Being bullied can be an uncomfortable or even traumatizing experience.
According to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research at least one in three adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied, but it affects people of all ages.
Greg Uebele can walk confidently down the street, but he still remembers what would happen. "A lot of verbal insults, some physical, I was never really beaten up. A lot of pushing, shoving here and there."
Uebele says he was bullied from the age of seven to17, "It was a few people repeatedly. It was some of the same people, shove me up against a locker as they're walking by. I had someone pour salt in my hair once."
The Ministry of Education says bullying can include:
- Physical: hitting, pinching, or unwanted sexual touching
- Verbal: name calling and spreading rumors
- Social: mobbing or excluding people
- Cyberusing the internet or text messaging to put people down.
A community mental health co-coordinator at Lutherwood, Jenni Smith says “It also needs to be something that is happening repetitively, and more chronically."
Those chronic signs can turn into chronic symptoms. "If there's some withdrawal that's perceived with that person's behaviour, changes in eating, changes in sleeping, anything that is a change, I think needs to be questioned" says Smith.
What should also be questioned is why anyone would turn to bullying.
MOSAIC social worker Lirondel Hazineh says "Sometimes a youth has experienced bullying at home, with a parent or a step parent or older sibling."
Hazineh says it's important to get to the bottom of it and get both sides of the story.
"As much as we attend to the victim, we also need to attend to the youth who's using bullying, because ultimately, they're going to continue that unless there's true understanding built."
As for Uebele, something he believes his bullies may not truly understand...is how much their behaviour has affected him.
"After high school I saw him, just somewhere, and he said 'Hi' to me, and smiled like nothing ever happened," says Uebele.
Katie Neu says she was bullied in school every day from the time she began kindergarten.
"Small town and my family was relatively new there. and it went all the way through, pretty much every day, I was bullied or physically attacked … I was very close to killing myself, I absolutely hated myself. I hated how I looked, how I acted, how I sounded" says Neu.
In high school Katie says the bullying got worse so at the end of grade nine she decided to leave.
"It's been a hard road, and people don't understand why I made the decision to never go back to school. It’s something I can't do. Those are the scars that I’m left with."
Since then, Katie has completed high school online. She’s taken online college and university courses, too. Katie’s also teamed up with a friend Rob Frenette to start a website called Bullying Canada
"Sometimes you need to just vent and have someone already know what's going on in your life and so that's how bullying Canada started " says Neu.
Both Neu and Frenette say the website say it's not a counseling service, but instead the first place you can call if you don't know where to go. Something Katie says could mean the difference between life and death.
"We’ve seen it before, bullying does kill people and we have had those suicidal youth come to us, who some of them have unfortunately gone through with it, because it was too late" says Neu.
It wasn't too late for Katie, her experience and efforts to combat bullying, have captured the attention of provincial and federal politicians.
She is still dealing with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but says she's feeling better. "Lots of therapy, lots of support from friends and family has gotten me past it."
And Katie hopes her story will help other victims get past it, too.