Bullying in the world is a big problem, but cyber bullying is often much worse in today’s digital world. On the morning of October 23rd, the whole Middle School trudged off to the gym, expecting to sit through a two-hour tedious presentation on Internet safety. That’s definitely not what we got. Darren Laur, a Victoria policeman and “white hatter”, came to our school to give us a very engaging and informative presentation.
Darren came to remind us that bullying is any act of harm – whether intentional or not, physical or emotional – that is inflicted onto other people. In today’s digital world, more bullying occurs online, and this is called cyberbullying. The difference between cyberbullying and bullying face-to-face is that the former is almost complete emotional harm. Cyberbullying is hurting people’s feelings, spreading bad pictures, posting mean comments, and generally putting others down via the Internet. This form of bullying is often used by people who aren’t brave enough to say things to others’ faces, using the Internet that can be slightly anonymous. Cyberbullies are hiding behind a computer screen and think that hurting others this way is okay.
“He was so moving and inspirational that I will never forget what I learned.”
Mr. Laur came to talk to us about a wide range of Internet safety topics. He spoke about personal safety, and the physical and emotional aspects that includes. He also talked about legal safety, specifically copyright, and not using technology to cheat. One topic I thought had the biggest impact on myself and my peers, was that fact that our social media lives can affect our real lives. For example, these days, colleges and employers check what you do online to determine if you’re the kind of person they want to have in their community. Mr. Laur also told us how to protect our devices and how Internet predators work. He also told us what legal charges can apply to cyber bullying, and that once something is on the Internet, it is never really gone or removed.
The most powerful thing he showed us was a video about a young boy who was bullied all his life. Many of the students and teachers were in (or close to) tears. Mr. Laur was in tears, and he admitted that he got emotional every time he saw that video. He was so moving and inspirational that I will never forget what I learned. And what I learnt is that nothing is ever gone; even if you delete photos, posts, snapchats, even whole accounts, people can recover them. The other thing that had the biggest impression on me was what he told us about cyberbullying.
We, as students specifically, need to put an end to bullying. It’s us, not random people, that do the bullying. That get bullied. That’s why we can stop it. If we teach people how much bullying and cyber bullying hurts, hopefully people will stop and think about what they’re saying about other people and stop. While teaching how much bullying hurts, we also teach that people understand how it feels to be bullied and there is help. Hopefully the bullied will take stands, get help and not let bullies wreck them. For us as students to stop bullying we need to take stands, tell bullies to stop, and offer help to people who have been bullied.
I know some people didn’t think much of the presentation because they thought that it didn’t apply to our school. We couldn’t possibly have cyberbullies at SMUS. And in truth, we are a very good school. We’re not perfect – there is the occasional not very nice comment or a slightly inappropriate post – but, all in all, we are an excellent digital school. What people need to understand is that no one is unconnected to bullying, even if they think they’ve never been bullied or bullied others. While we might not be in these positions, other people our age are and it’s our responsibility as a people to help others, and end bullying. Mr. Laur said to us, if we ever need help, see someone needing help, or even just want help making sure their Facebook is secure, to contact the “White Hatter” on Facebook.
Learn more about how to stop bullying at your school by watching this interview with three Grade 6 students on how students can create a no bullying culture.