As one of four communities being visited by StopBully, a community bully awareness program, Ponoka’s residents are being given the opportunity to look at themselves and at the town and discover new solutions to bullying.
During November, StopBully will run three sessions at the Word of Life church — not affiliated — on Nov. 5, 12 and 19 at 6 p.m., centering on three different ideas.
“The theory of the program is a little bit different,” said programming director Kelly Karius.
Karius says the program educates that there’s no such thing as a bully and there’s no such thing as a victim. “We all use bully actions and victim responses from time to time.”
She explains singling out the stereotypical bully for rehabilitation won’t ever solve the bullying problem in a school or community because everybody has called someone a name or talked behind someone’s back or exhibited bully actions.
Karius said when she speaks in schools and asks who’s a bully everyone stays silent. But when she begins listing off bully actions the hands start to rise; including the teachers.
The program’s first session talks about cyber bullying, shaming and grooming.
“Sexual predators will groom children online,” said Karius. Children will be groomed and release information about themselves without even realizing it.
The cyber shaming portion will focus on parent shaming. Karius mentioned a video that went viral after a child was forced to stand on a busy street corner with a sign on his chest chastising them for bullying.
“That’s a form of cyber bullying against the child. People have praised parents for taking that tact,” said Karius. She believes singling out someone in a negative manner won’t teach them to change their actions.
The second session talks about 10 things people didn’t know about bullying. Karius says StopBully is the first program in the world to use the ideas of bully action and victim response. “It’s always amazing to me, changing the labels can change so much.”
The third session focuses on ideas and strategies communities can put into action. “Bullying is not a school problem . . . It’s a cultural problem and it’s a social problem,” said Karius.
With the theory behind the program Karius feels, and as parents and community members become more educated on the terms of bullying, children will be taught at a younger age to value themselves and value others.