Policing

Sticks and stones adage outdated

By: Annalee Grant
Reporter, Cranbrook Daily Townsman

It’s not often the RCMP get involved in bullying incidents at schools, but when it does happen, the consequences can be far reaching.

Cst. Lisa Schlatter of the Cranbrook RCMP detachment has had to deal with bullying gone beyond the school yard before. She prefers to nip things in the bud by participating in school assemblies and speaking to parents.

“That’s basically my job, is to explain to them there are legal consequences,” Schlatter said.

The bullying seminars fit in with what the RCMP believes is important – communicating with young people.

“Youth are a priority for the RCMP,” Schlatter said.

The age old adage of “sticks and stones” is no longer true in 2012, Schlatter believes.

“Words are hurting kids these days,” she said. “If your child says they are being bullied – take them seriously.”

Gordon Terrace Principal Michelle Sartorel agrees that words, and the way they are spoken, are taken more literally these days.

“Kids are just so much more astute about the way they’re spoken to,” she said.

Schlatter told students at Laurie Middle School recently that bullying can cross into criminal harassment and sometimes charges of uttering threats. A criminal record means you can’t travel outside of Canada for as long as that record exists, and it can hinder job applications and more.

Unfortunately, new statistics released by Big Brothers Big Sisters reveals a startling picture of bullying in Canada.
“It’s staggering the number of kids who actually face bullying on a day to day basis,” Schlatter said.

Big Brothers found that 50 per cent of Canadians surveyed were bullied as a child or teenager, and 30 per cent thought the abuse they suffered had a long lasting and harmful effect.Of the respondents, 89 per cent thought bullies pose a serious risk to the well-being of their youth.

The survey also found that adults are ready to step up and take the lead in preventing bullying – 95 per cent answered that it is up to the adults to take responsibility to reduce bullying.

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