More education could prevent bullying: Halifax professor

More education could prevent bullying: Halifax professor - image

A Mount Saint Vincent professor believes more education for teens could help prevent tragedies like the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, who took her own life after being subjected to bullying, which stemmed from an alleged sexual assault.

“We should have been responding before this case took place,” said Devi Mucina, an assistant professor in the Department of Child and Youth Study.

Mucina believes education should focus on relationships.

“How do we teach them to have respect for one another? How do we teach them to care for each other and to understand their own sense of self worth?” he said.

He notes that the onus does not lie completely with teachers, saying it needs to be a systemic response that involves the community, politicians and parents.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Shelley Richardson, the regional director for Kids Help Phone.

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“I think it starts with education. I think it starts with kids becoming empathetic towards each other and to stand up against those people who are harassing and bullying,” Richardson said.

She notes that the organization receives 5,000 calls a week from kids across the country and adds that that number is on the rise.

“There’s been an increase in the number of instances of concerns over social media and what people are able to view.”

“Mental health has become a far more prominent subject for us as a society,” she said.

Early Wednesday, on Global’s Morning Show, Health Minister David Wilson agreed, saying further investment in mental health services is critical.

“We’ve increased the funding this year into the first of the province’s mental health addiction strategy that we have in place,” he notes.

If you feel like you don’t know where to turn, contact the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. Richardson says the counselors are professionals who are trained to deal with mental health issues and crisis situations.

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