One step forward…let’s hope so.

Exciting developments today in the anti-bullying movement.  About a week and a half after 13 year old Bryten Brown of St. Thomas took his own life, the Thames Valley District School Board admitted that Bryten’s suicide was, at least, in part the outcome of bullying and have launched “a special Task Force to bring together key members of the community to tackle the complex issue of bullying.”

Peter Jaffe, who is a Professor of Education at the University of Western Ontario is “an expert in the field” and will be a part of this task force.  He is quoted as saying, “Bullying and children’s mental health issues are two sides of a coin.  We have to work together to understand the cause and consequences of bullying.” 

Community Task Force on Anti-Bullying is made up of the following people:

Tony Bendel – St Thomas Anti-bullying Coalition
Dr. Linda Baker – Centre for Children & Families in the Justice System
Barrie Evans – Psychological Services Thames Valley District School Board
Chief Murray Faulkner – London Police Service
Jane Fitzgerald – Executive Director, Middlesex-London Children’s Aid Society
Trustee Peter Jaffe – Director of Centre for Children & Families in the Justice System
Arlene Morell – Chair, Thames Valley Parent Involvement Committee
Corina Morrison – London Anti-bullying Coalition
Rod Potgieter – St. Thomas Family & Children’s Services
Graham Pollett – Middlesex London Medical Officer of Health

Now, let’s get real.  Does Jaffe really think that people don’t know the cause and consequences of bullying?  There is enough research out there, empirical and anecdotal, that could choke a horse.  All of this comes down to some very basic principles – make the choice to get along, make the choice to appreciate life, make the choice to help others.  When we fail to make these choices, choices are still being made.  Choose conflict, choice to reject the value of life, choose to turn a blind eye to others in need.  That would sum it up quite simply, I think.  

Here’s another point that really took the steam out this announcement for me; look at the Task Force members.  They are all from existing organizations that, presumably, should have already had a handle on the problem.  Together are they really going to have any greater impact?  I hope so, but I have my doubts.  A true grassroots movement by concerned individuals, preferably parents who have a vested interest in the lives of their children and others in the community.  You just know that this task force is going to get bogged down in bureaucracy.

Everyone has a story.  It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

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