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.

This year during the second week of October, the Toronto District School Board and Winnipeg School Division will acknowledge the inaugural Body Confidence Awareness Week (#BCAWeek), a first of its kind in Canada – that’s collectively over 275,000 kids in over 600 schools.

Body Confidence Awareness Week is an opportunity to help families, educators, and students learn how to identify and prevent body-based harassment because even one child feeling unsafe in their skin is one child too many.

This year, while we remind our children not to forget their knapsack, let’s also remind them to:

  • Be empathetic
  • Address their peers by their peers’ chosen names and pronouns and nothing else
  • Remember that words do hurt, not only sticks and stones – let’s think before we speak
  • Remember that being a good student isn’t just about getting good grades – it’s about standing up against injustice such as sexism, racism, ableism, sizeism, and gender-based violence at school
  • Keep in mind that laughing at, scoring, judging, or unwantedly touching someone’s body is never “just a joke” or “kids being kids”
  • Intervene using words or anonymously get help and tell a trusting adult when you see someone being bullied –safety always comes first but you can help by telling a trusting adult and asking them to intervene – that way, your identity is kept secret
  • Remember that every student has the human right to a caring and safe school where their body confidence can thrive

What are some of your tips? After all, we’re in this together. Comment on this post and share on twitter using @BCCAwards #BCAWeek.

This fall BCC will host the Body Love Ball with the BCCAs returning in 2018. For more visit www.BodyConfidenceCanada.comThe Canadian Women's Foundation is proud to be a Body Confidence Canada Awards community partner.

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