October is Stop Cyber Bullying Month. At Build-A-Bear Workshop we want to do everything we can to ensure all children are safe, whether it’s at home with their furry friends or when playing online. To help answer some questions about bullying prevention, I went to our very own 2012 Huggable Hero Ceilidh Millar. Ceilidh volunteers more than 40 hours every month as a teen reporter, spokesperson and peer advocate for bullying prevention. She shares information about the dangers and consequences of bullying through presentations, television appearances, and articles. Ceilidh’s work has been featured on the National Bullying Prevention Center and Teens Against Bullying websites.
It’s somewhat rare to find a young person, such as yourself, so involved in bullying prevention. How did you become such an advocate in this area? On the same note, what clicked for you that made you decide to speak out against bullying?
I first became involved in bullying prevention while in high school. I recognized many of the programs implemented in schools focus on ”bullying awareness” and have not been effective in actually preventing bullying. Thanks to these programs, students can recognize bullying and put a name to it, but remain powerless to prevent or stop it.
Students need to be given knowledge and skills to prevent bullying. The way to do this is through peer advocacy. When we observe another student being bullied, it’s up to us to rally to the support of that student and speak up. We need to tell the bully, what they are doing is unacceptable and NOT cool. Shut it down right then and there.
Stopping any form of prejudice or injustice, takes others standing in solidarity and speaking out for what’s right. As we saw with the civil rights movement and the end to apartheid, this is how true transformation is achieved.
As awareness about bullying grows in our society, some may say that it can sometimes be difficult to decipher between an instance of bullying and an instance of “kids being kids.” How do you define bullying?
Bullying is as any type of action purposely intended to make another student feel badly. This encompasses gossip, exclusion, teasing, name calling, cyber bullying, threats, intimidation and physical violence.
Bullying is NOT school yard play and MUST be treated seriously.
How do you see bullying differing between the real world (like in a classroom) and online (like in chat rooms, games, social media, etc.)?
School yard and classroom bullies are easily identified whereas cyber bullies are too cowardly to face their victims and do it anonymously online.
What top two tips do you have for teenagers when it comes to using social media?
1. Use social media to speak out against bullying and educate others by teaching acceptance and understanding.
2. Refuse to partake in or pass along cyber bully messages and report instances of cyber bullying to a trusted adult.
Do you have tips for parents who think their kids are being cyber bullied and want to help?
If your child is a victim, talk to your child about cyber bullying and staying cyber safe. Block communication with the cyber bullies and report the problem to the internet service provider or website moderator.
If it persists, save the communication from the cyber bully and speak with other trusted adults such as a teacher, principal or law enforcement officer. Cyber bullies may think they are anonymous, but they can be found.
Finally, what are the best way parents and children can help spread the word to stop bullying?
Encourage your school to establish an effective bullying prevention program creating an environment where youth in the school simply don’t accept bullying and take concrete steps when they see it:
1. The students themselves don’t bully.
2. They tell their friends it’s not cool to bully.
3. They reach out and extend a hand of friendship & support to classmates they know are being bullied.
The best way you can help someone who has been bullied is talk to them, show them they are not alone and ask what you can do to help.
Bullied students often suffer in silence. Encourage them to tell a responsible adult such as a parent, teacher or principal so they are aware of the situation.
Have you ever been the victim of bullying? Have you ever been a bully? Watch this.
Ceilidh’s tips on how you can make a difference
What can YOU do to make a difference?
* Don’t partake in making fun of others and school gossip. By doing this, you’re also giving permission to those who have it done to you.
* Don’t practice exclusion. By leaving students out, you give others the right to exclude you too.
* Use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to educate, raise awareness and speak out against bullying.
* Extend a hand of friendship to a kid who is lonely.
* Promote acceptance and understanding.
* Write a letter to your school’s administration and school board. Demand a district wide policy of “zero tolerance” for bullying.
* Write politicians demanding anti-bullying laws are put in place.
* Instead of putting someone down, build them up. We’ll all be the better for it!
Follow the 3R’s plus1:
Refuse to be a bystander.
Lead by example. Welcome everyone into your group and create a diverse and awesome circle of friends! When we share our lives and learn together, this enables us to see past our differences and discover our similarities!
Work Together To End Bullying!
The power of hearing one voice in solidarity with you can be transformative. – It’s all about taking a stand and empowerment!
If you or someone you know needs help to deal with bullying, tell someone! Or contact: