London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News
There are words that have been created to help define the most terrible of situations. Bullycide is one such word.
Bullycide came to prominence more than a decade ago and refers to suicide attributable to the victim having been bullied, either in person or via social media.
Cindy Gale knows this term all too well as her 14-year-old daughter Dawn-Marie was a bullying victim who committed suicide in 2000. Gale has shared her story on a number of venues, including on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the John Walsh Show and Anderson Cooper of CNN.
That message is being brought to St. Alban the Martyr Anglican Church, 1350 Huron St., later this month. The St. Alban youth group, Pips in the Pew (PIPs), invited Gale to share her message with the community — and not just the church’s congregation — on Thursday, Feb 16, starting at 7 p.m.
Bullying is an issue known not only to the community, but members of the youth group itself.
Helen Booth, PIPs youth leader, is no stranger to bullying. Booth was bullied as a child, her son was bullied growing up, and so she knows how important it is to continue the discussion.
“Cindy’s presentations are different because she is talking from a mother’s perspective, she experienced it, which makes it much more personal than a textbook presentation,” Booth said. “There is a lot more feeling behind it. It is an important issue. As sad as it is to say, we are blessed to have her, but it is sad we still have to have this.”
Although a victim of this behaviour in her youth, Booth said bullying today is even worse because it doesn’t stop. Bullying, Booth said, can now continue 24/7 with the use of emails, text messages and social media. In some circumstances, she adds, kids are getting together to figure out just how they can hurt someone the most.
“I think it is today’s society. If you see someone who is weaker than you are, it is easier to tear them down rather than build them up,” Booth said. “When you see someone weaker, and it makes you feel stronger, that is what people are doing instead of reaching out and helping build someone up.”
Gale’s presentation, Booth said, not only focuses on the children, but parents as well. When her son was first bullied, Booth said she got directly involved. Unfortunately, Booth said she believes far too often parents are willing to step back and either say it is something children have to get over, or make it a problem of the school systems to solve.
“Society needs to support the children to stop this instead of just walking away and thinking it is only bullying, they will get over it. They don’t,” Booth said. “People say they can take The Pledge (a highly successful, community wide initiative that seems to raise public consciousness about bullying), but you can talk all you want, unless you are willing to walk-the-walk, it isn’t going to make a difference.”
Booth started the St. Alban youth group this past September and is so far drawing six to eight youths together every other week. PIPs, which is open to kids in Grade 6 and higher, allows youth to discuss the issues that are of importance to them. Not surprising, bullying is a subject Booth said has come up on several occasions.
“I hear the kids talking. When I hear about things that are happening at school or things that are being said, I am just floored,” Booth said. “The youth don’t agree with it. We have had kids stepping up around incidents of bullying. They say they won’t stand for it.”
The Bullying Stops Now presentation takes place Thursday, Feb. 16, at St. Alban the Martyr Anglican Church. Admission is free. For more information, phone 519-455-5788.