NIAGARA FALLS – For Amanda Flasko, the bullying escalated into a world of anguish at two Niagara elementary schools.
Pennies were thrown at her in a playground. The cruel taunts were never-ending.
She was threatened with beatings and fake blood poured outside her locker.
By Grade 9, she was suicidal and struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Amanda stayed in high school, but also had alternative education options provided through the school.
“It took five years for her to work through that period,” her Niagara Falls mom Laurie Flasko said. “It was a very tough time.”
Her daughter is flowering now, and set to graduate with honours in child and youth studies from Brock University. Amanda, 23, now volunteers to help bullied kids through John Howard Society’s Project REWIND.
While Amanda soundly overcame her bullying, a string of high-profile suicides of bullied young people continue to make headlines.
Most recently Amanda Todd from Vancouver took her life after being tormented by classmates.
With that in mind, New Democrat MP Dany Morin urged fellow House of Commons MPs on Monday to support his motion M-385, which was given its first hour of debate in the house.
If adopted, it would establish a special committee to develop a national bullying prevention strategy.
Flasko — co-author with Julie Christiansen of the book Bullying is Not a Game: A Parent’s Survival Guide — says having a strategy in place would have been a huge help in rough times.
It would link parents, educators, mental health professionals, and other related programs to combat bullying.
“As a parent, I had no idea what to do,” she said. “There were no resources, no information. You’re lost and when you’re in crisis, you need it right away.”
Flasko adds schools have since come a long way with anti-bullying initiatives. And schools Amanda went to did their best to help her.
Welland MP Malcolm Allen said he hoped parliamentarians could work together to create an effective national strategy.
“Bullying is a reality for many young people today,” Allen said. “They are experiencing it in a way that previous generations have never felt because of the impact of social media.”
St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra said the issue of cyber-bullying and its consequences “is one that our government takes very seriously.”
Dykstra said bullying prevention is also part of the federal government’s National Crime Prevention Strategy.
“As a father, my heart goes out to the family of Amanda Todd and all families who have had to deal with this heartbreaking situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Conservatives hinted Monday the government will likely reject an NDP MP’s call for a national anti-bullying strategy.
Candice Bergen, the parliamentary secretary for Public Safety, told the Commons “bullying is always wrong” but said the issue is best dealt with “at the local level” through educational, legal and medical professionals.
Source: Niagara Advance