Bullying and crime reduction demands a relevant strategy!

Posted by at 24 February, at 20 : 24 PM Print

By Neals J. Chitan

At about 8.30 AM on Tuesday, February 23, 2016, pandemonium broke out in the hallways of a Toronto suburban area high school where an alleged 14 year old,  grade nine girl, whipped out two knives and indiscriminately attacked students, wounding six (mostly all girls) and three staff members, as they wrestled her to the floor to disarm her.

From the media frenzy that followed the incident, it can be deduced that this young perpetrator was the victim of bullying, especially the emotional form of cruelty referred to as exclusion, which damages girls’ self-esteem and starve their sense of belonging.

In my household, we are no distant observers to this, as I remember quite well the emotional hurt, disempowerment and even physical pain and nausea it caused my grade seven daughter Amanda. I still remember seeing her coming home after school in tears as she sobbingly told us that her friends did not want her as part of their group because she was black.

It was heartbreaking to see our charismatic extroverted child reduced to a wounded victim, but I am thankful that my wife and I were observant and perceptive enough to be able to intervene.  Taking her in our arms we lovingly re-polished the leadership skills we knew she was born with, so that it glittered so brightly, that her confidence returned and she was able to soar above the bully and her so-called friends.

However, this may not be the intervention that most young hurting victims of bullying receive from parents and guardians, and it certainly may not have been available to the 14 year old perpetrator in Donbarton High School knifing a few days ago. You see, when a victim has lost hope, life can become so excruciatingly painful that their only recourse is to make others feel the pain too! In many cases this emotionally beaten down victim musters up all the inner strength needed to create and execute with precision a final suicidal revenge on the perceived perpetrators.

In “The Globe and Mail” Canada premiere newspaper, columnist Selena Ross in her Tuesday, February 23, 2016 article covering the school knifing incident, published alleged social media posting from the 14 year old knife wielding girl. In her blog, the perpetrator mentions in four different posts her urge to carry out a knifing rampage in school. She goes on to disclose that she would have preferred a gun as the weapon of choice, but only knives were available, and that she wanted the police to kill her when they responded, since she wanted to die. What hopelessness!!

This incident has drawn so much media attention that it has put “bullying” again at the top of public discussions board. Television, radio and newspapers have all jumped on the band wagon with their “How can we keep this from happening again” question, as if they really want answers!! In my opinion, it is just the media hype for “You’ve heard it first on…..” ratings, on the part of these media houses and not a genuine search for an antidote.

Social issues like school shootings, bullying, violence, gang activity and other prevalent problems will not be seriously addressed or solved with a sporadic unsustainable approach. We cannot wake up and turn our attention to these issues only when an incident occurs, and after the hype, we close our eyes and go back to our administrative slumber hoping it will not happen again. As I have over the years maintained, to address and solve these issues in any meaningful way, an ongoing multi-dimensional strategies involving enforcement, diagnosis, education and rehabilitation has to be in place.

When an incident occurs, the enforcement arm has to be immediately engaged to take control, ensuring safety and removing the threat so as to achieve normalcy as soon as possible.  After the imminent danger has subsided through enforcement, a method of diagnosis is necessary to decipher the correct factors and influences which may have contributed to the incident. However, when things are under control and life has returned to normal, it is imperative to engage a socially relevant educational and rehabilitative treatment plan with both proactive and reactive approaches, if we hope to reduce the chances of such incidents reoccurring in the future.

Unfortunately, what we see in our 21st century society is a false sense of security and comfort when things are back to normal and the weapons are quiet. However, without serious education and rehabilitation being engaged in these quiet periods, it’s only time before the social volcano erupts again and crime and violence send us running for answers one more time.

If you are looking for a comprehensive strategy to address the roots that feed bullying, as the designer and copyrights holder of “NO MORE SUFFERING IN SILENCE”, I will like to offer you or your organization this powerful series that will equip parents and teachers to intervene before it’s too late, empower the victim to rise up, while also rehabilitating the bully.

Call us at 647-629-6496 or email:nealschitan@motiv-8.org. We may just save a life!!

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