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26 Nov, Saturday
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Montreal Families

Facebook’s anti-bullying campaign

Facebook has created an interactive page for teens and adults where they can pledge to stop bullying and recruit others to get involved. The campaign, Be Bold: Stop Bullying, is aimed at teens, parents and educators and hopes to inspire those who witness bullying to take a stand.

Participants visiting the page can take a pledge, share stories and even start their own school-based bullying prevention groups. The site will also be a resource centre, providing support and information. It’s the latest attempt by Facebook to end bullying – but this time it’s targeting the more than 18 million Canadians active each month on the social-media site. Similar campaigns exist in the United States, Latin America and Australia.

Jordan Banks, managing director of Facebook Canada, says the goal is to raise awareness of the simple, yet powerful, actions people can take.

The Canadian initiative, launched during Bullying Awareness Week in November, is in partnership with organizations such as Family Channel, PREVNet, Kids Help Phone and STOPcyberbullying.org

“It doesn’t matter in what ways young people bully, it’s a really destructive process,” said Debra Pepler, the scientific co-director of PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network).

She says that peers can make a huge difference and this type of campaign — to engage young people in understanding the problem and being part of the solution — is on the right track.

“It’s a collective pledge and a collective commitment to do something, when the tendency is not to do anything,” said Pepler, who’s also a psychology professor at York University in Toronto. “We can start to change norms and change attitudes. It really takes courage to stand up and intervene.”

One person who’s already taken a stand is Canadian comedian Rick Mercer, who has already posted a video on the page. “No one deserves to be bullied and everyone shares in the responsibility to make sure that it doesn’t happen,” says the comic actor best known for hosting CBC’s Rick Mercer Report. “We’ve already lost too many good kids andstill more are suffering in silence.”

To find out more, visit www.facebook.com/beboldstopbullyingca.

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