It’s back to school season! The thought of a new grade or even a new school may be a little daunting for many children, but there’s the usual excitement to see that old friend again, say hi to their favourite teacher, or go shopping for that cool back to school item with parents or guardians. However, for far too many of our children, back to school means back to body shaming and size- and appearance-based discrimination on a daily basis – and that’s not including cyberbullying which never takes summer break.
According to PREVNet, Canada’s authority on research and resources for bullying prevention, 75% of people say they’ve been affected by bullying and 78% of Canadians say not enough is being done to stop bullying in their community. And unfortunately, when it comes to cyberbullying, we know from a recent Canadian Women’s Foundation study that Canadians aren’t optimistic about the future: 87% of Canadians believe the next generation of women in Canada will be just as or more likely to experience online harassment. The effects of bullying online and offline can include lowered self-esteem, habitual school absenteeism, poor academic performance, and heightened risks for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, engaging in unhealthy relationships, criminal activities, and even suicide.