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School Yard Bullying - Book Fundraiser to Stop Bullying

Stop Bullying - Book sales to Fund Anti-Bullying programs

Toronto Star Newspaper

Canada's largest newspaper

Educator dreams of curbing bullies

`I don't think kids can learn in fear,' says Susan Bosak

Proceeds from her book to fund school programs

The Toronto Star, by Tess Kalinowski, Education Reporter

Educator and author Susan Bosak remembers her own fearful school days and hopes to make life better for todays children.

In biting, 25C weather, a young Susan Bosak would walk around and around her north Winnipeg school, hoping to find a door she could enter without being taunted by the students who hung around outside smoking.

Inside, she learned to avoid the washrooms. They were the girl gang hangouts. If she made it through to a stall, other girls would leer over the wall, taunting Bosak with obscenities or pelting her with wads of wet paper towels.

"I remember living in fear constantly from about Grade 5 onward," the Stouffville-area author said in an interview. "I was bullied in school and I was bullied to and from school. I remember trying to find the most strategic path home."

A target because she was smart but not assertive, Bosak, 40, says teachers must have been aware of her plight but accepted it then as a normal part of growing up. That's an attitude Bosak who brings her latest book to the Canadian Safe School Network annual conference today wants eliminated.

The book, Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom and Wishes, is not an anti-bullying tome but a gorgeously illustrated collection of poetic reflections on achieving one's dreams at every stage of life, from infancy to old age. Proceeds from 5,000 copies, being distributed by Grand River Toys, will go toward establishing anti-bullying programs in Toronto elementary schools.

"The whole idea is to make bullying as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving so everyone stands up and says this isn't okay. I couldn't learn in fear and I don't think kids can learn in fear now," she said.

Bosak says it's time to recognize the severe psychological damage inflicted by bullying, which usually starts with verbal assault but frequently escalates to physical violence.

She survived her childhood torment, but the effects linger.

"One of the residues of being bullied as a child is that I'm not as comfortable going into new social situations as other people. That's something I have to work on at a very conscious level.

"Yes, you come through it, but that's not to say you come through it as effectively as you could have," she said.

Despite anti-bullying programs in schools across Canada, Bosak said she still hears children talking about behaviour that impinges on their self-esteem: everything from bunny ears made with fingers behind a Grade 2 student's head to the "usual kicking and punching."

Recently, Ontario Provincial Police in the London area took the unusual step of charging a 13-year-old with sexual assault and uttering threats after a teacher uncovered allegations of schoolyard bullying.

At today's Safe Schools conference at a Pearson airport hotel, about 450 teachers, principals, social workers and other school officials will talk about how to end school violence. One session will even look at how to stop bullying on school buses.

Since half of Canadian students are bused to school, said Stu Auty, founder of the Canadian Safe School Network, drivers often have to deal with "behavioural issues" such as bullying.

Bosak's book is available at www.grandrivertoys.com  or by calling 1-800-567-5600.

with files from Patrick Currie


Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom and Wishes  Price: $ 23.99