Quiet times does’t mean anti-bullying message was heard
Editor's Note: The names involved have been altered at the request of the family.
SPRINGHILL – Do students get bullied during summer break?
Summer is a source of rest and relaxation for many students, but one student within the Chignecto Central Regional family of schools says while the diplomas and report cards are handed out, it just means a small break from the workload bullying causes him to carry.
Michael, not his real name (and Springhill probably isn’t his home community, either) is everything you would expect the star student to be. He’s tall, athletic, makes good grades and involved in his community. But instead of being cast as the star of the story, Michael is the outcast. He’s called names to and from school, receives threatening or ignorant message over the computer and has grown to think all eyes are on him for all the wrong reasons.
“It comes in waves. Sometimes it's a lot and then it slows down,” Michael says. “Then it starts up again.”
Michael’s entering a time when the tide seems to be rolling back the bullying, but in fact it’s just summer break. Many of his tormentors will have less access to him, save for those who resort to the Internet or happen upon him.
“School is a controlled environment,” Michael says. “But it doesn’t stop when school stops.”
“We know it’s hard for him,” Michael’s mother, Anne, says. “It’s been going on since elementary. We’ve worked with the school board, turned to the Internet and the kids help line, but it seems there’s nothing out there to help us.”
The anti-bullying movement, Anne says, rallies together when tragedy strikes or there’s fanfare to be had, meaning there’s almost a silent acceptance in the meantime. She’s seen some of the anti-bullying champions in Michael’s school turn into the same monsters they preach against during these lulls and it frustrates her to the point of tears.
“One of the most important things parents can do for their kids is get them to open up and talk,” Anne
It’s during these times the next tragedy is being created
“You always here about kids after the fact, and then it’s too late. You get scared,” Anne said. “I don’t want him – or anyone else’s kid – to become a statistic.”
Michael has been very brave facing his tormentors, but he’s especially brave coming forward with his story and his reasons for anonymity. A little press could go a long way to bring his situation to the public’s attention and draw attention to whose bullying him, perhaps offering a reprieve he’s so desperately needed all these years.
Instead, he and his family have put a lot of thought into the consequences for others.
“It’s sad, but if someone like [Michael] stands up for himself, they move on to the next person,” Michael’s father Matthew said. “You don’t want someone else’s kid to become bullied because we stuck up for ours.”
Instead, they want their story to inspire families during the summer, when school seems like a distant memory, to keep talking about bullying – either how its impacting their lives or how their actions could be, in fact, bullying someone.
“One of the most important things parents can do for their kids is get them to open up and talk,” Anne says. “Whether it’s at home, through mental health, get them talking about it.”
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868)
Nova Scotia’s Anti Bullying website: antibullying.novascotia.ca