len's masthead




londoner editor pic





I recently had parents refer their grade eight son to me for some counselling. ‘Andrew’ didn’t relate to the family or seem to have any friends. He told me that he wanted to disappear under a large rock: he didn’t want to die but he wanted the bullying to stop.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health released the results of a survey that shows that one quarter of Ontario students in Grades 7-12 have reported being bullied at school. This represented approximately 225,000 students whose peers made their lives a living hell. More males than females reported being bullied.

In 2004 Joshua Melo, a grade ten student, who went Strathroy Collegiate committed suicide. Josh hanged himself. He seemed to have everything going for him: loving parents, a girl friend, an honour student with a Black Belt in Taekwondo.

Why, you ask would young man commit suicide? My many years of counselling young people has taught me that our youth can find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.
They often feel that no one can help. Tattling on the offender is not a viable alternative for teenagers; they fear that it can only make matters worse. Keeping the pain to yourself and not retaliating is the norm; hopefully the perpetrators will cease their mocking ways and find someone else to pick on.

The Internet chat line allows the slurs and put downs to follow along after school when teenagers turn on their computers.

Students good marks and singing in the Amabile Choir can earn praise from parents and teachers but it doesn’t impress their classmates. Hard to be accepted by the guys/girls if you don’t play hockey or football. Remember the musical refrain: “you’ve gotta be a football hero (to get along with the beautiful girls.)” Being accepted and liked by your classmates is paramount.

There are warnings indicators for parents that flash if you know the signs. Quiet, reserved kids who find it hard to express their feelings can be scary. Students spending four/five hours a day in front of the TV, computer screen deprives the family of meaningful communication. Loners are not often happy involved youngsters.

Please take the time to go for a walk with your children and find out how they are doing.

Please look for teens who eat in the cafeteria by themselves and are different from the other kids. The so called nerdy, “A” average students, can be left out of the social mix.

Elementary school parents and teachers should be cognisant of the quiet, helpful, youngster who opts to stay in for recess/lunch to help clean the boards rather than kick the soccer ball around with the rest of the class. Children sometimes fake sickness rather then face the hassle on the school bus every morning.

What do you do about the bully? Parents, students, teachers have to emphasize that bullying is unacceptable behaviour that will not be tolerated in our schools. The Thames Valley School Board has a zero tolerance policy toward violence that has to be enforced. Verbal/physical demeaning of students must be investigated and dealt with forthwith.

The school has to offer everyone a safe place to study and grow without the fear of harassment.

We can not afford to lose another talented student to bullying. We all grieve when one of our young children’s lives is ripped from our midst.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com