Canadian Red Cross

Canadian Red Cross

November 09, 2007 09:08 ET

Red Cross Launches Bullying Prevention Campaign to Empower Youth who are Bystanders

Bullying stops 50% of the time in 10 seconds or less when peers intervene

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 9, 2007) - Everyday in Canada, young people experience intimidation, degradation and cruelty at the hands of their peers. But when a friend steps in, bullying stops about 50 per cent of the time in 10 seconds or less. A new Canadian Red Cross campaign, Stand UP, launched for Bullying Awareness Week November 12-18, 2007, aims to empower bystanders to take steps to reduce bullying in their schools.

About one in five Canadian youth report being bullied regularly. For the victim, the consequences can include long-term emotional damage. Physical harm, caused by attacks or self-inflicted wounds, can also result. For the youth who is the aggressor, research indicates that bullying behaviour, when unchecked, can escalate into criminal action in later years.

The youth who are bystanders play a considerable role in the act of bullying by providing a much-needed audience. Research shows that more than 85 per cent of bullying episodes occur in the context of a peer group.

"For too long, bullying has been dismissed as a normal, harmless part of growing up. But something that deeply scars so many lives cannot be dismissed as just 'kid stuff'," says Lisa Evanoff, National Training Coordinator for the RespectED: Violence & Abuse Prevention program.

To stop the hurt, the first step is ensuring young people understand what's appropriate and what's unacceptable behaviour. The Red Cross program behind the campaign, Beyond the Hurt, clearly defines bullying and harassment, and examines the impact and consequences of these behaviours. The program is delivered in schools and community groups by young people, who have been trained, mentored and are supported by adult Prevention Educators.

The program not only helps the targets and perpetrators of bullying, but also helps bystanders understand their responsibilities. "The majority of young people are neither those who bully nor those who are victimized, but the passive or participatory bystander who has a significant role to play in prevention," Evanoff says. "Often, youth who bully are seeking prestige through their actions. Peers can cheer a bully on, or they can discourage harassing behaviour by refusing to accept or applaud the bully's actions."

The Red Cross also offers bullying prevention workshops for educators and other adults who work with youth to help them understand the destructive consequences of bullying, know the law and their obligations, and develop effective policies for prevention and intervention.

"When you're being bullied, you feel very alone. But you're actually part of a whole community that has an obligation to help make the problem stop," says Evanoff. "Everyone needs to understand how their actions and attitudes can either help bullying continue, or foster a healthy environment."

For more information on the campaign including tips for youth, parents and educators, visit

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