Online anti-bullying campaign calls for provincial task force, unified support networks

·4 min read

A Newfoundland and Labrador company is using a new online campaign to call for a provincial anti-bullying task force and updated bullying statistics across the country.

Samantha Gerbeau founded Newfoundcare in 2004, and wanted to create an anti-bullying campaign as an educational tool for people in the province. When she began researching bullying statistics, she says she was surprised by what she saw.

"I found Bullying Canada … and unfortunately the last set of research that's there is from 2012," she said earlier this month.

"There's a fair amount for school-age children and bullying, but when it comes to adults and bullying there's not a lot. There's one line for workplace bullying … and there's one line for cyber bullying."

In an effort to help push for updated bullying statistics, Gerbeau created the #BullyBeKind campaign. The campaign took place over the course of November, offering people a platform to share stories, publicly or privately.

"A lot of people, what they have been doing is getting in touch with me privately, and I create the stories to share online for the public to view and see to hopefully gain some research out of those aspects," she said.

CBC
CBC

Gerbeau believes one reason for a lack of updated bullying statistics could be because few incidents are reported, both in schools and the workplace.

In a statement to CBC News, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District said all bullying complaints are investigated by school staff, but are not documented unless found to be valid.

The district also uses online tools to track bullying instances and note behavioural trends or issues with individual students.

Better first contact points needed

Beyond social media, the campaign will end with a workshop outlining what a provincial anti-bullying task force would look like. Gerbeau said a task force could help establish better first points of contact for those facing bullying and help grow support networks by getting local support groups on board.

"They are the first point of contact for a lot of people who are dealing with bullying, yet they're not under one umbrella," she said.

"I think with their expert advice as well as experience, they are the best people to be speaking with in regards to how do we prevent bullying, and how do we overcome the bullying aspect that happens to victims and provide them with the necessary support.… Those sort of things have to be explored."

The sooner that one can get the help that they need, the better the outcome for that person. - John Dinn

Several community organizations, including the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Canadian Mental Health Association, will be taking part in the workshop on Monday.

John Dinn, workplace mental health coordinator of the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, believes in the idea of a task force, as bullying can have an effect on people's mental health.

"Some cases, bullying over an extended period of time can lead to people experiencing PTSD, anxiety, depression, burnout," Dinn said.

"In some cases, unfortunately, it can cause people to have thoughts of suicide depending on the situation they're in."

Submitted by John Dinn
Submitted by John Dinn

According to statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association, 45 per cent of Canadians targeted by bullying suffer from mental health problems, while 40 per cent say they have experienced bullying in the workplace at least once.

"Targets can endure bullying for almost two years before they finally come to the point of filing the complaint," Dinn said.

"The sooner that one can get the help that they need, the better the outcome for that person," he added. "It's basically letting the victim know that they're not alone out there, that help is available in their situation."

Ahead of the workshop, Gerbeau said she hopes to potentially present the idea to the provincial government.

"An umbrella is the main goal for the anti-bullying task force, in that it would house all the aspects of bullying for Newfoundland and Labrador." she said.

"Then, for instance, to explore the idea of a 1-800 number perhaps for the public to call in order to receive support or intervention. Also, education. If they feel like they are a bully, if they feel like perhaps maybe I am bullying, they can privately correspond with this anti-bullying task force."

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