WINNIPEG — For Harrison Oakes, bullying is more than academic. He was bullied as a teenager to the point where he tried to kill himself.
Now 28 years old and a third-year psychology student at the University of Winnipeg, Oakes let his adolescent despair motivate his desire to help other teens before they suffer the tragic fate of Amanda Todd. The 15-year-old B.C. girl took her own life last week because of online bullying.
Oakes has developed a new online anti-bullying guide for teachers that incorporates the latest evidence-based research. It’s being used by the Family Channel to promote the upcoming Bullying Awareness Week, Nov. 12 to 18.
“News of Amanda Todd’s suicide absolutely devastated me,” Oakes said. “While reading of how she had changed schools multiple times in an effort to escape her bullying, I was reminded of my adolescence and the bullying that resulted in my attempting suicide and dropping out of high school for a year and a half.
“While on the one hand I feel despair at the loss of another beautiful young life, I also feel impelled to work harder in our efforts to prevent bullying,” said Oakes, a research assistant with PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), a network of researchers, community organizations and governments.
While there have been previous teacher guides on bullying, Oakes said this year’s guide includes information on cyberbullying and how it differs from other forms of bullying.
“Children who bully are learning to use power and aggression to control and distress others,” Oakes said.
“Children who are victimized become increasingly powerless and find themselves trapped in abusive relationships. They need help to stop the bullying.”
On Nov. 16, the Family Channel will air a special presentation of the Bullying Awareness Week Stand UP! Rally. The rally, at which Oakes and his PREVNet associates will be present, will take place Oct. 25 in Toronto.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 20, 2012