JILLIAN AUSTIN/BRANDON SUN
Student council president Paige Kasprick, left, Jaci Pirie and Hannah Granger stand outside Crocus Plains high school. All three students have experienced bullying and plan to host anti-bullying events to help others.
Whether it’s mean-spirited whispers in the hallway, harassing text messages or nasty rumours on Facebook, bullying is still an unfortunate reality in Brandon schools.
The topic of cyberbullying has been brought to the forefront this week with the tragic story of Amanda Todd. The 15-year-old B.C. girl took her own life after years of torment online.
"I thought it was really sad that someone would take their life just because of something that other people were saying to her," said Grade 12 student Jaci Pirie. "I don’t think she should’ve went that far."
Pirie was also a victim of bullying just two years ago.
"In Grade 10, these girls were really mean to me and would text me, saying that I should kill myself and nobody likes me," she said. "I told my parents and they told the principal and he basically said that there’s nothing he could do."
Pirie and her family moved to Brandon later that year.
"It’s way better now," she said.
Grade 10 student Hannah Granger was the target of mean comments in the hallways last year, her first year of high school.
"It would be about what I was wearing," Granger said, adding the bullying would bring her to tears. She said talking to her parents helped her through it and it eventually stopped.
Granger and Pirie are both members of the Crocus Plains student council and plan to help organize anti-bullying events to help others deal with bullying.
Guidance counsellor Katie Bonk has been at Crocus Plains for about 17 years. She said bullying is always an issue.
"It’s always been there and it’s still there," she said. "I think we’re raising the profile now because of all the cyberbullying, (the Internet) is making it a lot worse and a lot harder to monitor."
Bonk said the main message they want to get across to students, is to tell someone if they are being bullied.
"Talk to a counsellor, talk to a parent, talk to a teacher, talk to the principal," Bonk said. "Come and get help because if we don’t know it and we often don’t see it … Give us all the details and we try to handle it as best we can."
Bonk said a lot of the bullying happens behind-the-scenes.
"It’s that sort of under the surface kind of things, the eye rolling, the smirks, the making fun of somebody’s clothes," she said. "They tend to hide the right-in-your-face kind of stuff. They’re not going to go right in front of a teacher and start putting somebody up against the wall, but it’s … a lot of mean girl stuff that goes on."
Crocus Plains has launched an anti-bullying club this year.
"The goal is to raise awareness and (host) events," said Crocus Plains student council president Paige Kasprick.
Bonk said they are always thinking about what more can be done.
"What else can we put in place to help kids? Is it a peer mediation program where we actually train kids to stand up, not be the passive bystander, but be a little more assertive?" Bonk said. "It’s a very complicated situation with the bystander, the victim and the bully."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 20, 2012