Dany Morin proposes federal anti-bullying plan
Dany Morin, deputy LGBTQ critic for the official opposition, last week presented a motion at the federal level to fight bullying. The NDP Member of Parliament hopes to strike a special parliamentary committee to look at various forms of bullying, including physical, verbal, indirect and cyber-bullying.
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“It’s so important that this kind of strategy be put into place in 2012,” Dany Morin said, the morning after the NDP’s Gender Identity Bill passed its second reading. “Since I was elected as an NDP MP a year ago, I have sadly too often had to stand and bring to attention the suicide of youth who suffered bullying. I’m referring particularly to Jamie Hubley and Marjorie Raymond. And every time I stood up, I asked what the Conservatives were going to do to protect children. And sadly, from what I can tell, it’s business as usual.”
Morin wants the House of Commons to show leadership on the issue, and put aside partisan politics. He also hopes that the issue becomes a subject of discussion across the country. The committee would be assigned to undertake consultations with families affected by bullying and with organizations that work with youth, in order to build a country-wide strategy.
At the press conference, three young people shared their stories of bullying with the press. “I suffered from bullying during childhood in Toronto,” says Faye Estrella, former 2B contributor and now Jer’s Vision’s conference coordinator. “From age 6, people had a hard time telling if I was a boy or a girl. They assumed that I must therefore be gay and would put me down. They would also make fun of my weight, the way I talked, my clothes, the music I listened to and the books I read. For a long time, I just put up with it.”
Estrella was soon unable to put up with it, and fought back by bullying others, until finding a better strategy. Estrella, (who goes by “they”), decided to tell their story. When they did, the students who had made fun of them apologized, some cried, and many grew from the experience. Proof that there’s a way to stop bullying, that you can “unlearn,” the habit, Estrella contends. “But we need the government to take a stand,” they added.
Dany Morin also spoke of being bullied as a youth, and knows that it is an experience shared by too many young people. “There’s no magic solution,” he says. “However, every stakeholder in society has a role to play. Currently, provinces are very proactive in implementing anti-bullying measures.”
School teachers are better equipped for dealing with bullying in the classroom, even if it can still happen outside the schoolyard. “It’s also happening in the street and on the internet,” Morin explains. “Cyber-bullying is definitely an area where we can play a role at the federal level. With telecommunications regulations, for instance. The problem is that the federal government has no strategy at this time.”
And that’s why Morin says the commit he’s proposing is important. The strategy he hops to build with the committee will be based on five key points. First, a study of the prevalence and impacts of bullying, then adopting better practices in preventing bullying based on the best scientific evidence available in Canada and elsewhere.
“They we have to share this information with Canadian families whose youth are affected by bullying in their community,” Morin explains. “We must also help the organizations that work with these youth. Finally, and most importantly, the key word to remember here is prevention and not criminalization.”
Since often the pain inflicted by bullies has lasting scars, the logical course of action is to focus on prevention and education. Dany Morin’s motion would target all forms of bullying as a way of extending help to LGBTQ youth, who are, studies show, 4 times more likely to experience bullying than the average student.
Photo of Dany Morin by Sanita Fejzic