An Open Letter to Canadians - Guest Post

This is a guest post by Alex Vander Vlugt who started SpeakOut when he was 15 years old. He is currently attending his first year of university in Montreal Quebec. He is a former student trustee and former director of communications for the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association. Alex is pursuing filmmaking as a career on the Toronto Dominion Scholarship. His organization can be reached on Facebook or Twitter at @sowhatspeakout or you can tweet Alex directly at @alixvv.

An Open Letter to Canadians,

Whether it was a television being turned on, a newspaper being opened, or a bulletin announced on the radio, 2011 could be remembered as the year where announcements of victims being lost to bullying seemed far too frequent.

I have been around the awareness raising drive since I was 15 years old and there has never been such a high amount of media coverage as this preceding year. With all this chatter, the pressure is certainly on to do something about this issue now. For far too long, parents, politicians, and students have been burying their heads in the sand, blaming one another for the lack of action.

The band-­‐aid message of reassurance we keep feeding those at risk is that “time heals all wounds”. Yes, it "does get better”, but this mantra certainly is not enough. Just as a physically ill patient needs time, they also need active treatment to properly heal. Our country’s children need both time and action to truly resolve bullying issues. 2011 was a great year for awareness of bullying, and I am proud of the progress. 2012 however, undoubtedly needs to be a year of action. I’m not just asking our educators and politicians to create action plans: this is a call out to all Canadians.

Parents, have a conversation with your children, no matter how old they are. Set an example for your young ones and re-­‐engage with your older ones. Don’t tolerate your child being bullied and absolutely never tolerate your son or daughter bullying someone else.

Elders, help our younger generation regain respect for one another. As our global reputation suggests, explain how a little courtesy in our society will go a long way for making Canada a better place.

Educators, ensure your classes are a place of safety. Do not turn a blind eye to issues when you are aware of them. Go beyond and do your best to make sure every student feels included. You are all aware of the resources available to students who are in need; help them along the way to regaining their confidence, poise and happiness.

Politicians, focus on preventative measures, not consequences. It’s better to eradicate the issues from the root rather than tighten punishments. Governments have recognized that the issue exists, and now is the time to properly implement policies to not only help victims but to help the perpetrators rehabilitate.

And finally students, I am reaching out to you no matter what age you are. Bullying exists from the time we are little and sadly continues beyond our high school days. I have seen this not as a victim nor as a bully but as a bystander and I am sure you have seen it too. We all know about the bullying inflicted upon our peers, our classmates and our friends. I for one, and I’ll assume anyone else for that matter, do not want to lose another friend this year. So please, stop these personal attacks. Think before you post (directly or passively) something awful on Facebook or Twitter. Include one another in your activities and lastly keep an open mind to those who are different. You can be the change in someone’s life and you might just be able to save it.

We are not perfect.

It is hard to ask anyone to be perfect as comments slip out or we forget to show respect and compassion to others. We are human, and the beautiful about being human is that we can strive for perfection. Show and gain the respect of one another. Build trust by forgiving those who have hurt you in the past. If we can conclude 2012 without having had a single Canadian feel that ending their life is the only solution, we can be a proud, stronger nation. We can be a proud nation if we stop acting out of fear. We can be proud of having a generation of youngsters who feel a sense of community. We can be proud when we give hope back to teens that feel lost right now.

So let’s do it Canada. The stage has been set, and now is the time: let’s make a national resolution in 2012 to use awareness and action to put an end to bullying.

Alex Vander Vlugt
Executive Director SpeakOut
1430 Rue City Councillors
Apt 209 Montreal Quebec H3B 1B4

I would like to Thank you Alex for taking the time to write this post for my readers here on Canadian Coupon Mom. Having my own son who was only 4 at the time be bullied by who he thought was his best friend was really hard to see. I want to help in any way I can to raise awareness to help others find the strength to stand up and speak out against bullying.

~*Disclaimer: This is a guest post by Alex Vander Vlugt for Canadian Coupon Mom. This is not a sponsored post.*~

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