Tag Archives: bullying


I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a classroom of Manitoba teens about bullying. I had read my students the memoir of a young woman from India who immigrated to Canada and experienced on-going race related bullying in a Quebec high school. It didn’t stop even after she reported incidents to teachers.

bully pixabay imageI asked my students if they’d ever been bullied. It was quiet for a long time and then one boy said he was often teased about his speech impediment.   This opened the floodgates. Some students had been bullied because of their size. Others teased because they couldn’t speak English well. Some had been harassed about their clothing or hairstyle or had their sexual orientation questioned sarcastically. There were students whose family background had been ridiculed and others had been the butt of jokes because of their unique physical characteristics. But the most common kind of unfair treatment surprisingly had come from adults who bullied them because of their age. 

 One boy said he’d been browsing in a store when the business owner approached him and asked if he had stolen something. The young man said he hadn’t and turned to leave. The owner refused to let him go until he had searched him for stolen merchandise.  “He didn’t even apologize for falsely accusing me”, said the student. 

Other kids had seen people cross the road rather than walk by a group of teenagers. Teens had been the recipients of dirty looks for no apparent reason other than their age. Some felt discriminated against in the work place where they believed employers felt freer to get angry with teenage workers.

My students reminded me of how important it is for adults to be good role models when it comes to bullying behaviour.  We need to display a non-judgmental attitude and accord everyone a full measure of respect. Bullying is not just a problem for schools to address. All adult members of the community have a responsibility to treat everyone including teens with tolerance and dignity. 

Other posts…….

Crossing the Line

I Wish I Hadn’t Answered the Question

Reading Aloud to Teens

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Teaching Kids About the Diversity of Families, Gender Identities and Sexual Orientations

Last week The Carillon, the southeastern Manitoba newspaper where I work as a columnist,  reported the Hanover School Board had said no to a request from a parent to include discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in younger grades. The parent voiced her concerns because her child was being bullied at school for having two mothers. She proposed that more open discussions in younger grades about things like families with same sex marriage partners, might help change the attitudes that led to the bullying. The school board decided to continue their policy of saving such discussions for high school classrooms where they are part of the mandated provincial curriculum.

This means parents in the school division who want their young children to be accepting of a diversity of family arrangements, gender identities and lifestyle choices, will need to teach their kids those values at home. Luckily there are plenty of great books that can act as helpful resources for parents.

The Pilgrims is a group of people in my church who meet regularly to explore how our faith community can respond supportively to the spiritual pilgrimage of LGBTQ people. Since I am our church librarian a group member approached me recently wondering if I might be open to having them donate some books for children to the church library. These were stories that introduced the idea that all people are unique and make different life style choices, and that all families are unique and some include two mothers or two fathers. I said I would be happy to have these books in our church library. The request sent me off on a search of my own and here are some good books I found that parents of young children might want to consider.

 morris and the tangerine dressMorris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino is about a little boy who loves to wear a dress from the classroom’s dress up box. His friends say he isn’t welcome in the space ship they are building because astronauts don’t wear dresses.

TangopenguinAnd Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell is a true story about a pair of male penguins in the Central Park Zoo who adopt an unwanted baby penguin and provide a loving caring family for it.

donovan's big dayDonovan’s Big Day by Leslea Newman captures the joy and excitement of a family wedding through the eyes of a boy who is acting as the ring bearer for his two mothers.

great big book of familiesThe Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman has colorful illustrations that depict every kind of family; single parent, two parent, blended, multi-cultural, multi-racial and families headed by same sex couples and grandparents.

annie's plaid shirtAnnie’s Plaid Shirt
by Stacy Davids and Rachael Balsaitis is about a girl who loves her plaid shirt and is upset when her mother says she can’t wear it to her uncle’s wedding and must wear a dress instead.

These are just a few of the books available for young children. There are also many well-written novels for upper elementary and junior high kids that address gender identity, life style choice and same -sex marriage in thoughtful ways.

In a Carillon editorial last week the Hanover School Division was characterized as “doing nothing to advance a more compassionate response to discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity.” Parents however can help their children have just such a compassionate response by sharing with them some of the great books for kids that celebrate and explain diversity.

Other posts……

Perfect for Pre Schoolers

Why Adults Are Reading Teen Fiction

Can Spirituality and Sexuality Dance Together

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Filed under Books, Education, Family