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Canada's largest daily newspaper

Why Canada can't stop bullies

The Toronto Star, Noor Javed, STAFF REPORTER, November 19, 2009

Daniel Sebben was just 13 when the taunts began. Day after day, for the next three years, the Newmarket high school student faced homophobic slurs, insults and verbal abuse from a group of six boys.

Karen Sebben - York Region Anti-Bullying Coalition
Karen Sebben founded the York Region Anti-Bullying Coalition to help other families after her teenage son was bullied for years in a Newmarket school. (Nov. 18, 2009)

He would come home upset, confused and fearful of what they might do to him the next day, said mom Karen Sebben.

His marks slid. He became depressed. He began cutting himself and eventually attempted suicide.

"He emotionally bottomed out. Every day, he was convinced they were going to get him."

But it was also the lack of support within the "chain of command" at school, among superintendents and those at the board level that left the family distraught. The aggressor was suspended for a few days, and when he returned, things got worse for her son, she said.

The Sebben family's experience echoes the finding of a new study, which ranks Canadian students among the worst in the world for involvement in bullying-related activities - including those who are bullies, those being bullied, or those involved in both.

Canada came 36th out of 40 countries - just ahead of Israel, the U.S. and Lithuania - in a paper done by Wendy Craig, a psychology professor at Queen's University, in conjunction with the World Health Organization.

Anonymous surveys were carried out in 2005 and 2006 among more than 200,000 students aged 11, 13 and 15. (The researchers defined bullying as the "use of power and aggression to cause distress or control another.")

They also asked students in six countries, including Canada, to describe the bullying - if it was verbal, physical, sexual or racial. They found, for instance, that 14 per cent of 11-year-old Canadian boys reported being physically bullied, and 30 per cent reported verbal abuse.

"I was really surprised and horrified," said Craig. "We have this view that Canadians are nice and kind and generous, and in fact our kids are being socialized on the playgrounds on how to be aggressive and are being victimized."

There are policies in place, like the provincial Safe Schools Act, that have put bullying front and centre in recent years. The province has also done training for 25,000 teachers and 7,500 principals to address and prevent bullying.

And this week schools across the province have held anti-bullying events as part of Bullying Awareness Week.

But Debra Pepler, scientific co-director of PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), a coalition of Canadians concerned about bullying, says there is little proof such programs work.

"People who suggest that watching a 45-minute video or a 45-minute theatre production is a solution don't understand the nature of the problem," said Pepler, noting there is almost no monitoring in Canada to see if these approaches work.

In countries with low rates of student involvement in bullying - Norway, Sweden and England - there are coordinated programs and policies are in place that are continually evaluated.

Sebben said policies here aren't helpful for a parent looking for help. She started the York Region Anti-Bullying Coalition and has had dozens of parents contact her. "They are completely lost," she said.

In Sebben's case, the bullying eventually stopped at the end of Grade 11, after her family sat down with the aggressor and his father, a facilitator and a vice-principal.

Through counselling and an alternate education program, Daniel was able graduate last June.

"He beat the odds," she said. "He was one of the lucky ones."

National Post

Father's suicide becomes rallying cry for fairness in court

April 1, 2000

BRANDON, Man. - Thirty-five years ago today, Lillian White gave birth to her youngest son. Yesterday, she knelt down and kissed his coffin at his graveside.

Darrin White committed suicide two weeks ago in Prince George, B.C., after a judge ordered him to pay his estranged wife twice his take-home pay in child support and alimony each month.

In death he has become a poignant symbol of family courts gone awry, of a divorce system run by people with closed minds, hard hearts and deaf ears.

Teen depression on the increase in U.K.- teen suicide statistics

Teen depression on the increase

More and More teens are becoming depressed. The numbers of young people suffering from depression in the last 10 years has risen worryingly, an expert says.

BBC, UK, August 3, 2004

Government statistics suggest one in eight adolescents now has depression.

Unless doctors recognise the problem, Read More ..uld slip through the net, says Professor Tim Kendall of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health.

Guidelines on treating childhood depression will be published next year. Professor Kendall says a lot Read More ..eds to be done to treat the illness.

Family Conflict and Suicide Rates Among Men

by Dr. Hazel McBride Ph.D. June 9-10, 1995

Violence and Abuse within the Family: The Neglected Issues

A public hearing sponsored by The Honourable Senator Anne C. Cools on June 9-10, 1995 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Transcript of Dr. Hazel McBride's presentation on the relationship between family conflict and suicide rates among men.

National Post logo

Quebec men more likely to commit suicide than women

Rate is especially high among baby boomers, statistics reveal. Read More ..

Centre for Suicide Prevention

Centre for Suicide Prevention 

The Centre for Suicide Prevention has three main branches:

The Suicide Information & Education Collection (SIEC) is a special library and resource centre providing information on suicide and suicidal behaviour.

The Suicide Prevention Training Programs (SPTP) branch provides caregiver training in suicide intervention, awareness, bereavement, crisis management and related topics. Suicide Prevention

Research Projects (SPRP)  advocates for, and supports research on suicide and suicidal behaviour.

invisible suicides

Invisible Suicides

StatsCan recently reported on a 10% increase in suicides. But StatsCan persists in ignoring the group of Canadians at greatest risk for suicide, as do the media and professional reports.

Suicide is a microcosm for those most under stress and most at risk of unresolved crisis in society. Suicides may logically be categorized as 100% citizens of Canada, and then as 79% male. The most critical measure of depression - suicide - is counted overwhelmingly in male corpses. For over 23 years widespread media and professional attention concentrated on 12,500 AIDS deaths, compared to little concern with 92,000 suicides.

Presentation to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs of the House of Commons concerning Bill C-68 - Firearms Act.

by Brian L. Mishara, Ph.D. Past President, Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and Professor of Psychology at the Université du Québec a Montréal.   Read More ..

CYF project halves child suicide rate

The New Zealand Herald, BY LEAH HAINES, October 10, 2004

A three-year project by welfare and health agencies has halved the rate of suicide among some of the country's most at-risk children.

Researchers say the project has the potential to put a massive dent in New Zealand's youth suicide rate - currently the highest in the developed world.

The results of the Towards Well Being suicide monitoring project were due to be presented to an international conference on youth suicide this weekend and are expected to gain global attention. Read More ..

Family Conflict and Suicide Rates Among Men

by Dr. Hazel McBride Ph.D. June 9-10, 1995

Violence and Abuse within the Family: The Neglected Issues

A public hearing sponsored by The Honourable Senator Anne C. Cools on June 9-10, 1995 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Transcript of Dr. Hazel McBride's presentation on the relationship between family conflict and suicide rates among men.


Reasons Why Young Men Commit Suicide

PA News, U.S.A., By John von Radowitz, Science Correspondent, September 28, 2003

Broken marriages, living a single life and lack of income are the three factors chiefly to blame for a surge in suicides among young men, a new study has shown.

Suicide rates in England and Wales have doubled for men under 45 since 1950, but declined among women and older age groups of both sexes.

Researchers trying to discover why found that between 1950 and 1998 there were worsening trends for many suicide risk factors.

These included marital break up, birth and marriage declines, unemployment and substance abuse.

But those most associated with young men aged 25 to 34 were divorce, fewer marriages, and increases in income inequality.