By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon
Laurie O’Connor says more people in Saskatoon are struggling to get food for themselves and their families as prices in grocery stores rise out of reach.
“We are definitely seeing an increase and have been noticing that since January,” said O’Connor, executive director of the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre.
The majority of respondents in a Canada-wide survey released Monday said they are using coupons or hunting for sales to cope with increasing food costs. Nearly 20 per cent were also reducing meal sizes or skipping meals altogether in order to save money.
The survey by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan was conducted from Sept. 6 to Oct. 17. It asked 1,001 people about strategies to cope with increasing food costs.
Statistics Canada’s consumer price index report said while the country’s annual inflation rate dropped slightly to 6.9 per cent in September, the cost of groceries continued to climb. Grocery prices increased at the fastest rate since August 1981, with prices up 11.4 per cent compared to a year ago.
In adapting to the surging costs, most respondents in the survey said they have been cutting coupons. A majority — almost 59 per cent — were also decreasing their household food waste.
Fifty-four per cent also made meal plans to ensure they had adequate funds for food.
Troubling strategies were less common but still too prevalent, said Jessica McCutcheon, associate director of the research hub.
Just over 30 per cent of respondents said they were eating less healthy food because it was cheaper. Nearly five per cent had stolen food out of necessity, and about five per cent had used a food bank or community fridge.
A recent report from Food Banks Canada said there were nearly 1.5 million visits to food banks in March, a figure that was 15 per cent higher than the number of visits in the same month last year and 35 per cent higher than visits in March 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The survey said people in the Prairie provinces were much more likely to have used emergency measures for food.
“Alberta and Saskatchewan have some of the highest food bank usage rates across Canada,” McCutcheon said.
In Saskatoon, O’Connor said the numbers of people using the food bank are some of the highest staff have seen. There’s also a worrisome increase in the number of students and seniors coming in, she said.
The survey found young people, aged 18 to 34, were more likely to have used a food bank or community fridge. They were also less likely to feel that they could afford to eat a balanced diet. Those 35 to 54 were more likely to have used coupons or purchased sale items.
Quebec saw the starkest difference from the Prairies, as 95 per cent of respondents there said they could afford to eat a balanced diet.
“It could be because Quebec just has a more robust social security net with their policies,” said McCutcheon.
The survey asked about government strategies to deal with food insecurity. Most supported increased funds to community gardens, food banks and implementing a universal healthy school food program. And there was support for grocery subsidies for low-income households and government support for farmers and producers.
Most respondents — just over 79 per cent — supported an increase to the minimum wage in their provinces. However, there was opposition to strategies that saw an increase or creation of taxes.
People in Quebec said they were supportive of an increase to minimum wage, a tax on sugar and an increase in carbon emission penalties. Those on the Prairies were much more likely to oppose those taxes.
To deal with food insecurity, O’Connor said, you have to deal with the root causes of poverty. The Saskatoon food bank also has programs around education, employment strategies and filing taxes.
Finding work isn’t the only solution anymore, she added , because wages and assistance just aren’t meeting everyone’s needs.
“(A) number of folks who are working, maybe a minimum wage job or a couple of minimum wage jobs, are being forced to turn to food banks now,” she said.
Researchers said the survey had a 3.1 per cent margin of error, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20, nationally.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2022.
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Turning the Tide on Cyberbullying: How Social Media Can Be a Protective Force
14 year old Adriana Kuch from New Jersey took her life because of bullying.
This article submitted by Cheryl Lynn Mark of DownloadAstro
In a digital age where the lines between reality and the virtual world blur, cyberbullying has emerged as a dark cloud on the horizon. But what if, instead of being a part of the problem, social media platforms could be channeled as a part of the solution?
This article will delve into the potential of social media as a protective force against cyberbullying. Here’s a roadmap of the discussion.
The rise of cyberbullying: current standing
Despite numerous expert-backed articles and the efforts of concerned organizations, cyberbullying remains a pervasive issue.
Earlier this year, we learned that 14-year-old Adriana Kuch from New Jersey took her life because of bullying. Apparently, another girl assaulted her at school, and the video of the said incident was posted on TikTok.
Before she did the unthinkable, Adriana said to her father, “I don’t want to be that girl who gets beat up on video and made fun of.” It was a sad thing for such a young girl to end up that way. And we hope that no one else will ever be in that situation again. Her story serves as a harrowing reminder of the devastating impact of cyberbullying.
The sad reality is that cyberbullying is difficult to fight as it comes in many different shapes and forms and is prevalent on all the major social media platforms.
But the truth is that social media is just a tool… Sometimes it’s not just about apps/websites — it’s the bad people on them.
This is why today, we’re going to dig deeper into how to use social media to our advantage. For parents, it’s essential to guide their children through navigating the platform. Time is always changing, and so is how we protect our children from harm like cyberbullying.
Social Media Tools for Protection
In the dynamic realm of social media, user safety is paramount. As cyberbullying continues to pose challenges, platforms are arming users with tools designed to enhance their online protection.
Consider the following essential features:
Privacy Settings: Controlling who sees posts and personal information
Privacy settings act as the first line of defense against unwanted intrusions. Most platforms allow users to decide who can view their content, be it the public, friends, or specific groups.
By limiting the visibility of posts and personal details, users can minimize exposure to potential threats. Regularly reviewing and updating privacy settings ensures that one’s online profile remains secure from prying eyes. It’s also advisable to restrict location sharing to prevent unsolicited real-world confrontations.
Reporting and Blocking: Quick actions against bullies
When faced with online harassment, a swift response can deter the perpetrators. Social media platforms have streamlined their reporting processes, making it easier for users to flag inappropriate content or behavior.
The blocking feature serves as an immediate barrier, ensuring that the bully can no longer contact or view the victim’s profile. This empowers the victim to reclaim their digital space without fear of further victimization.
Safety Centers: Resources offered by platforms for users in distress
Recognizing the profound impact of cyberbullying, many platforms have established safety centers. These are dedicated hubs containing articles, tutorials, and resources about online safety.
These centers often collaborate with mental health professionals and NGOs to provide guidance, helplines, and support for those affected by cyberbullying. They serve as a testament to the platform’s commitment to fostering a safer and more inclusive online environment.
While cyberbullying remains a concerning issue, armed with the right tools and knowledge, users can better protect themselves. Regularly updating oneself with the latest safety features and practices is essential to navigating social media’s vast and often tumultuous waters.
Positive Online Communities
If you’re not joining any communities right now, you’re missing out. Positive online communities stand out as beacons of hope. These communities are a testament to the fact that the internet, when harnessed correctly, can be a space for unity, support, and upliftment.
Here are some of the best benefits of joining a positive and uplifting community:
1. Emotional Support
Being part of a positive community provides a safety net, offering members a place to share their feelings, challenges, and experiences, knowing they’ll be met with understanding and empathy.
2. Personal Growth and Learning
Uplifting communities often foster an environment of continuous learning, where members share resources, advice, and experiences, contributing to personal development and growth.
3. Networking Opportunities
Beyond emotional support, these communities provide opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals, potentially leading to collaborations, partnerships, or new friendships.
4. Increased Positivity and Well-being
Regular interaction within a positive community can boost one’s mood, decrease feelings of loneliness, and contribute to overall mental well-being.
5. Resilience During Difficult Times
During challenging phases of life, having a supportive community can provide the strength and resilience needed to navigate and overcome adversity.
6. Shared Resources and Opportunities
Uplifting communities often pool together resources, information, or opportunities that can be beneficial for members, be it in the form of job leads, workshops, or educational content.
7. Sense of Belonging
Perhaps one of the most profound benefits is the innate human desire for connection and belonging. Being part of a positive community fulfills this need, reminding members that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
To find a positive and uplifting community, start by researching forums, groups, or platforms related to one’s interests or needs, paying attention to reviews or feedback from current members. Attend virtual or in-person events to get a feel for the community’s vibe.
For guiding children, emphasize the importance of online safety, encourage them to share their online experiences, and advise them to seek out communities that promote kindness, mutual respect, and constructive communication, steering clear of negative or toxic spaces.
The Influencer Effect
In the age of social media, influencers hold considerable sway over their vast audiences, making them invaluable allies in the fight against cyberbullying. Influencers have taken up the mantle of being digital role models. Many leverage their platforms to advocate for kindness, inclusion, and mutual respect in the online realm. To have a positive online environment, populate your social media platforms with influencers promoting such acts.
Remember to follow positive people in your life to strengthen your mind when fighting off negative forces.
Parental involvement in navigating the digital realm
Navigating the digital realm can be a daunting task for children, making parental involvement and guidance essential to ensuring a safe and wholesome online experience.
Open dialogue between parents and children about their online experiences is fundamental. Such conversations allow children to share their online triumphs and challenges and feel supported.
Regular discussions educate kids about potential online hazards, from cyberbullying to privacy concerns. When children know they can turn to their parents without fear of judgment or punishment, they are more likely to seek advice during troubling times.
Simple strategies for parents to stay involved:
1. Set Boundaries
Establish designated tech-free times, such as during meals, encouraging face-to-face communication and ensuring devices don't overshadow real-world interactions.
2. Co-View and Co-Play
Occasionally, join your child in their favorite online game or watch their beloved YouTube channel together. This shared experience provides insights into their online world.
3. Educate Through Discussion
Instead of merely setting rules, explain the reasons behind them, fostering understanding and cooperation.
4. Tech in Common Areas
Keep computers and other devices in shared spaces, like the living room, to casually oversee your child’s online activities.
5. Stay Updated
Familiarize yourself with the latest social media platforms, games, and online trends popular among kids. This knowledge aids in understanding their digital experiences better.
By actively participating and showing genuine interest in their child’s online life, parents can build trust, promote safety, and foster responsible digital habits.
Suggested read: What is the Most Likely Way Your Child can be Bullied Online?
The Bottom Line
As the fabric of our digital interactions evolves, social media’s role shifts from being merely a platform for connection to a force that can either uplift or harm. While challenges like cyberbullying persist, the collective effort of users, platforms, influencers, and parents can transform these virtual spaces into nurturing environments.
The onus isn’t just on the individual or the platform, but on the entire online community. Just recently, Georgia’s Republican leadership identified combating cyberbullying as a primary legislative focus. Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who’s going to collaborate with educational institutions and social media firms to formulate the bill, said, “That’s not going to be limited to school districts, it’s going to have teeth in it where the people perpetrating these things, we’re going to try to hold them accountable.”
By promoting empathy, understanding, and proactive protection, we all can play a part in ensuring that the internet remains a space of positivity, growth, and safety for everyone, especially our younger generation.
If You Don’t Hear From Me, It’s Because I Don’t Hear From You.
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