Amid the whirl of back to school preparations, two Nova Scotia families are suggesting parents make time for a talk about bullying.
“Make sure that you know what’s going on with them,” said Pam Murchison of Belmont. “You only see what your kids want you to see, so try to be vigilant with their cell phone and computer use.”
Murchison’s daughter, Jenna Bowers-Bryanton, took her own life in January 2011 after suffering relentless online attacks.
Murchison says she tried to respect her daughter’s wishes to just “leave it alone” – and now regrets that she didn’t wade in.
“Sometimes you have to overstep the line, if you know your kids are hurting and you know there’s something that needs to be done,” she said.
Sharon Brown’s daughter, Courtney, committed suicide in March 2011 after being targeted by bullies.
“Talk to your kids,” said Brown. “None of us even seen the signs with Courtney.”
Brown says she and her husband are trying to address bullying in Parrsboro by opening a youth centre where kids can play games, watch movies, and seek discreet help from a youth counsellor.
“It’s just to get them to hang out with each other, so the main thing is there’s no bullying and nobody’s better than anyone else,” said Brown.
Murchison says the province needs to take action on the recommendations released by a provincial task force in March – specifically one that would allow police to get information quickly from internet providers when someone’s engaging in online bullying.
However, she says the real solutions start with parents talking to kids about being bullied – or about being the bully.
“Nobody’s kid is perfect and no parent is perfect, so you need to realize your kids can do things that you don’t think they would ever do,” she said.