Sadly, we live in a world where people are frightened to be themselves; girls try to be someone they aren’t to fit in, guys will beat someone up to show how “cool” they are, and those with a different sexual preference can’t be open about their sexuality because some person may make their life a living hell.
Ugly, fat, geek and so much more, I heard it all growing up myself. I was bullied, and in turn, I was a bully to try and take the focus off of me. I grew up in a time, 43 years ago, where there wasn’t social media. Facebook and Twitter creators weren’t even born yet. I’m thankful for that. I couldn’t imagine being in a world where words can spread like wildfire in moments to so many, and devastate lives in a heartbeat.
Yes, I’m happy with who I am today; I’ll admit, there are still times when people point out a fault, and suddenly, I’m that 7 year old girl in the school yard being bullied because I was different.
Today we are fortunate to have many unsung heroes, walking the beat of social media, who help those who are victims of bullying in the social world. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Constable Scott Mills. He has the heart of a lion when it comes to bullying online and helping kids end the torment; yet has the soul of a lamb which resonates in his kind words and passion to bring change.
Scott and a team of 280 officers are the social media watchdogs for Toronto Police Services. The unit is the force behind the TPS departments’ social media networking. Since 2004, Constable Mills has been the key player and pioneer who is moving this lifeline forward for so many.
So how does Toronto Policing benefit having this program? The simple premise behind TPS’ social media networking is this:
Imagine for a moment your loved one is being bullied. Let’s keep in mind, what happens in the school yard, in the neighbourhood, at the mall, will more often than not, find its way to that loved ones social media page. Bullies feel invincible behind their computer, and generally think nothing of upping the bully factor when sitting behind a screen. Any person being bullied can now reach out to Constable Mills (@graffitibmxcop) and friend them. Voila, a post or two from a Toronto officer is sure to bring a hush to any bully out there. If that isn’t enough incentive, simply having this connection to a social media top cop can assist you in having a lifeline to the Toronto Police Services; if a bully wants to roll the dice and harass to the point of what constitutes criminal harassment, they may soon find a police officer knocking at their door, and may very well face the harsh consequence that may bring.
Bullying needs to end … period! It’s time we all say ”You can be who you are. You will be safe and accepted.”
The sad reality is that 160,000 children skip school every day because they fear being attacked or intimidated by other students. Not in your family? Children don’t always turn to family members to tell us that they have been bullied.
How to spot the signs of bullying:
1. physical injuries like unexplained bruises and scratches
2. reluctance to go to school
3. lower academic performance
4. moodiness, withdrawal, tension and tears after school
5. talk of hating school
6. refusal to discuss what’s happening at school
7. bed wetting, altered sleep patterns or having nightmares
8. changes in eating habits (such as loss of appetite or overeating)
9. major changes in relationships and friendships with others
10. getting into trouble more often, and acting out
Obviously these signs can also point to many other issues. So how do you find out if bullying is the reason for your child’s changes in behaviour? You need to talk to your child and try to encourage them to open up about what’s happening. Many kids who are being bullied will not voluntarily talk to their peers about what’s happening. They will need some coaxing and to feel that they are being understood in order to reveal what they’re going through.
So, please, take a moment to talk to your kids. Talk to them about their day, talk to them about bullying, talk to them about Constable Mills and his presence out there in the cyber world, just take a moment and talk.