Sunday November 23, 2014


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A battle that will never end

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Pink-clad residents from the Estevan area gathered at the Estevan Court House, and marched down Fourth Street, with a simple yet profound message: bullying has to come to an end.

Participants sported slogans on their pink shirts and bracelets that showed their disdain towards the practice of bullying. It was a brief parade, only a couple blocks, but hopefully they believe, and practice, the ideals promoted during the walk.

Hopefully, they'll also persevere with their crusade, even if total victory against bullying is impossible.

The good news is that bullying isn't tolerated like it used to be. We can argue whether it's worse than it once was, or if it's more prevalent that it was 20 years ago. Certainly the Internet and the advent of cyber-bullying have made life more difficult for victims, and created new avenues of abuse for the tormentor.

Now the bullying doesn't end when the victim returns home. Menacing and slanderous statements and messages can be posted on-line, where anyone, including the victims and their families, can view them.

But at least a concept like Pink Shirt Day can happen. And hundreds or thousands of people will don pink and join in a walk because they don't approve of bullies. 

Bullying used to be viewed as an unfortunate, but accepted reality for school students. The big kids and the mean kids picked on the small kids. Kids were mocked because of their glasses, their braces, their weight or something that was different in their physical appearance.

And while those actions still happen, the attitude towards bullying has changed.

If the victim went to a teacher or an administrator, then that victim would be labeled as a "tattle-tale," and the teasing, the mocking and even the violence would get worse.

Now, if a student goes to a teacher or an administrator, and an action doesn't occur, or the problem gets worse, then the school is criticized for its inactivity, regardless of whether they tried to remedy the situation.

And it used to be that people said there's a reason the victim was picked on, that it was the victim's fault.

The sad part is that there will always be bullies. Schools can organize events that promote tolerance, love, respect and inclusion. They can adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards bullies. The government can pass laws that make bullying a crime.

That won't eliminate bullying. It can be diminished. But not eradicated.

The anti-bullying battles and campaigns need to continue. Events like a walk on Pink Shirt Day, or the recent Challenge Day at the Estevan Comprehensive School, are worthwhile. They have a great message and a wonderful impact that will hopefully be long-lasting.

The ultimate demise of bullying is idealistic, not realistic. But it's an unattainable goal worth pursing.

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