Once every year, schools across the board gear up for a week dedicated to kindness and reconciliation in the student-body. WCI is one of these schools, but even as we’re on the verge of a new decade, not much has changed. As a middle child, I have watched my older sibling struggle with bullying, I myself have struggled with it, and now I we watch our youngest sibling struggle with nothing to say to her but “Keep your chin up and ignore them”.
Anti-bullying week is a five day period where students are meant to come together and work towards termination of bullying, but five days is too short of a period for an issue this large.
“Is it this week? See I didn’t even know that. Did they talk about it on the announcements? Did they have posters up?… The thing is, students in our school don’t really give a [REDACTED] about anything, so I feel like it’s really hard to promote anything in this school.”Isaiah B.
I had the chance to sit down with a few students at WCI to get their opinions of the topic of bullying. They all said that their bullying started in early elementary school, primarily grade one to three. One thing they also agreed on was being targeted for identity. Physical appearance, especially in the formative years, is unfortunately one of the things that matters most to students. The first thing you notice when you meet someone is their physical appearance, not because of bias, but because we get the majority of our information from our eyes. The shape of our bodies is one thing that so many people have been targeted for. No one is a perfect-cookie-cutter shape, but for some reason we’re expected to be, and anything more or less is seen as a fault and a reason to be targeted. Other identities such as race, gender, or sexual preference, are also considered to be reasons to get bullied.
One student I spoke to said that, growing up in the darker parts of Toronto as an immigrant, he experienced many different forms of bullying. Some of it was race based, some size, and some was about his sexuality. Two others said they were targeted for their weight or body shape. In addition to asking what they were bullied for, I asked them specific questions about bullying in this school, and although the answers were not shocking, they were still troublesome.
I asked Tanya R. if she though this school was a safe space, and she replied, “Not necessarily.”
“…I think a lot of it has to do with social media making it easier… I used to get [threatening] calls during school and after school…I don’t think [this school] is good for bullying.”Tanya R.
She said that to make the school a safer place, teachers and authorities need to trust students more when they say they’re being bullied. More often then not, when a student reaches out for help the teachers shut them down with the excuse that they didn’t see it and there’s no proof. Even if there isn’t proof, students still deserve the benefit of the doubt and there needs to be something done.
When asked what students could do to make this school a safer place, all interviewees agreed that we should be compassionate, because we never know what someone is going through or when someone just needs a little bit of kindness. If the student body was more sympathetic, understanding, and frankly just minded their own business, bullying would be a much smaller issue.
Hopefully, next year, we can do more for anti-bullying to ensure a safer space for all students, but for now, all we can do is be kind.