"Justice minister launches anti-bullying campaign, recalls playground ordeals"
Canadian Press, May. 23, 2002
OTTAWA (CP) -- Justice Minister Martin Cauchon launched a national campaign against bullying Thursday, recalling his own experience as a playground victim.
Cauchon's family name, which sounds like cochon, the French word for pig, made him the target of frequent taunting, he told an audience of several hundred young people and educators.
"When I was a kid going to school we had experience of bullying and for us it was something like normal and today we realize it's not normal, it's something we can prevent," he said.
"I've been involved in such an event many times, not as a bully but as a victim. People have toyed with my family name, Martin Cauchon. I had to face that on a daily basis."
The campaign features television ads depicting a boy shouting taunts and insults in a schoolyard. As the boy rants and punches the air the camera pulls back to show he is alone.
The message is "walk away." The idea is that children should walk away from bullies, because the bully is usually seeking a attention, and will lose motivation if there's no audience.
The commercials, which will begin airing in June and continue several years, were created free by studios connected with Concerned Children's Advertisers, a non-profit association of 24 Canadian companies that market children's products.
Broadcasters will contribute air time worth about $4 million, said Cathy Loblaw, president of the association. Lesson plans for teachers and tips for parents are also being offered through Corus Entertainment, she said.
Cauchon conceded that bullying is a complex problem with many causes, possibly including television -- the very medium being used in the campaign.
"One of the concerns is the question of violence on TV," he said. "It's one of the factors, so I guess it's part of the whole phenomenon."
Many studies over the years have suggested that children with high exposure to TV violence are more likely to resort to aggression in play or to more serious violence as they grow older.
Canadian researchers have developed a computer chip known as the V-chip that could be used to block violent programs, but the technology still hasn't been applied.
Although there are no solid data to show that bullying is on the rise, the public has been shocked by the severity of several incidents in recent years.
In 1997 B.C. teen Reena Virk died after beatings at the hands of other teens, all but one of them girls.
In March, two B.C. teens were convicted in the death of Dawn-Marie Wesley, 14, who hanged herself in November 2000 after writing a note in which she described their bullying.
Hamed Nastoh, 14, also from British Columbia, committed suicide by jumped off a bridge after being bullied and teased.
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