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Four tips for preventing and handling Cyberbullying

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This article is published with permission from SOS SAFETY MAGAZINE.

NOVEMBER 30, 2019

Growing up in the digital age has both pros and cons. On one hand, your child has access to an enormous amount of information that can guide their learning and connect them with many opportunities. On the other hand, there are people who use the internet with cruel intent to harm others with minimal or no consequences.

Cyberbullying is one of the negative effects of being able to access the internet at our fingertips. Bullying that was once done at school and could be monitored is now happening at all times online.

To help prevent cyberbullying and properly handle cases of online harassment, here are 4 suggestions for parents to consider.

  1. Create Awareness

While kids may be aware that cyberbullying is occurring, parents are often left in the dark. Panda Security found that 76% of parents claimed their child has never been cyberbullied.

While such a large percentage of parents don’t think their child is being cyberbullied, stats on cyberbullying tell an entirely different story. The National Crime Prevention Center reported that 43% of teens were victims of cyberbullying in the last year and Pew Research Center found that 59% of teens have been a target of cyberbullying.

There is a clear gap between how often parents think cyberbullying is occurring and how much it actually is. In order to close this gap, there needs to be more awareness and understanding of the topic.

  1. Report Cyberbullies

With a screen hiding their identity, cyberbullies feel safe to harass without consequences. To combat this, we must encourage kids to report cyberbullies. There are a few reasons these bullies aren’t reported.

To start, there is a fear of retaliation. Kids would rather keep quiet than be labelled a snitch or accidentally encourage the bully to take further action. Many cyberbullies are kids from school so they may also fear an in-school issue if they report the online issue.

In addition to this, kids feel ashamed. Being a victim of mean comments can be embarrassing and hard to bring up to adults. Bullies play on people’s insecurities on purpose so that people will be less likely to report them.

While these worries and concerns aren’t something you, as a parent, can control, you can control your reaction when your child tells you about a bully. A common fear many kids have is of how an adult will react or if they will be believed. Reassuring your child of your support will help them feel comfortable reporting these cyberbullies.

  1. Take the Right Action

If your child told you they were cyberbullied, how would you react? When surveyed about reacting to a cyberbully on social media, 73% of parents said they would block the bully’s profile, 56% would report them to the social platform and 50% would file a complaint with the school.

While 58% of parents would reach out to the bully’s parents, only 24% would reach out to the bully directly. This shows that there may not be a proper consequence given to the bully.

Taking the right action is important so that the bully knows what they did is wrong. If the cyberbully isn’t directly addressed and reported, they could continue harassing other kids. Be sure you’re aware of the laws and regulations for bullying in your state.

  1. Have Open Conversations

One of the most important things you can do is to have an open conversation with your child about cyberbullying. Panda Security found that 41% of parents have never had a conversation with their child about bullying. Of these parents who haven’t had a conversation with their kids about cyberbullying, 51% were dads and 65% were moms.

Parents would rather regulate their children’s online activity than have an open discussion with them. While regulations can help, there are many ways that kids can get around them. In addition, online monitoring doesn’t catch everything.

Keeping an open dialogue about bullying will help your kids feel more comfortable coming to you if there ever is an issue. Taking this preventative measure is healthier than simply being reactionary.

To open up this conversation, here are 8 suggestions for talking about cyberbullying. 

  • Talk about how you read about a rise in cyberbullying and stats that go along with it.
  • Discuss examples of cyberbullying that you’ve witnessed or heard of.
  • Ask if your kid has witnessed cyberbullying. Rather than directly asking if they have been a victim, let them open up about a friend or classmate.
  • Assure them that if they were cyberbullying you would want to know so that you could support them.
  • Let them know your policy on cyberbullying. What exactly would you do if they were cyberbullied and what would you do if they were caught being a bully.
  • Emphasize how important it is to keep their device safe and secure.
  • Be open with them about how you plan on monitoring their device to keep it safe.
  • Ensure that your child knows that they have your support and you’re on their team.

Cyberbullying is an issue that many parents are facing or might face in the future. Being prepared and letting your child know you are there for them can make all the difference.

Learn more about SOS Safety Magazine, an amazing free resource in our community.

Todayville is an independently-owned digital media company. We specialize in helping community groups, local businesses and organizations tell their story. Our team has years of media and video production experience. Talk to us about advertising, brand journalism stories, opinion pieces, event promotion, or other ideas you have to make our product better. We also own and operate Todayville Red Deer and Todayville Calgary.

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Alberta

Graffiti artist completes world’s tallest mural in downtown Calgary

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CALGARY — It looms on the edge of downtown a stone’s throw from the Calgary Tower,  a splash of colour amid aging buildings, railway tracks, parkades and a steady stream of traffic.

It’s billed as the world’s tallest mural, painted by one of the globe’s top graffiti artists, and is part of a project to turn an austere area of downtown into an expansive open-air urban art gallery.

“The brutalism and dystopian look of this area with the giant parkades and the spiral ramps and stuff — it feels like Gotham. So turning this wall from concrete nothing to this is really fun,” said Peter Oliver, president of the Beltline Urban Murals Project, or BUMP.

The mural is an abstract painting in various shades of orange, black, grey, blue, white and yellow and is the creation of DAIM, an internationally renowned German artist. DAIM, whose real name is Mirko Reisser, has been creating public artworks for more than 30 years.

“DAIM’s work is rooted in graffiti art. It’s abstract and he was actually the very first graffiti artist to start exploring three-dimensional works. So his work kind of obeys the laws of light and shadow but defies the laws of gravity,” Oliver said.

“I think his work really marries well with the brutalism of this building and it’s just a massive flat wall of concrete. It’s the very first prefabricated concrete building in Calgary, built in 1980.”

The mural is 95 metres high, making it the tallest mural in the world “by a long shot,” said Oliver.

He said most cities don’t have giant concrete walls available, with the majority being glass, steel or aluminum. So this was a perfect marriage.

DAIM, who was assisted by three local artists, spent over three weeks painting and went through more than 500 cans of spray paint after a base coat was added to the bare concrete. It is to be a permanent addition to the area and, as of last week, was awaiting a coat of UV sealant to make it complete.

Facing toward the east, it can be seen from a long way away.

“If you’ve got the window seat on the airplane, you can see it on the approach into the airport,” Oliver said.

“I think what we’re really doing with BUMP is re-architecting the identity of this city.”

The project will be unveiling about 60 new murals during its annual festival, which runs from Aug. 1 to 28. Before that, the new art work can be viewed by visitors at the annual Calgary Stampede, which begins this week.

“If you’re coming down, I’d check this out over the parade any day,” Oliver said with a chuckle.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Beehives and goat farms: Lacombe school shortlisted in global environmental contest

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Taylor Perez says she learned more about her passions while tending beehives, goats and fruit trees at her central Alberta high school than sitting through lessons in a classroom.

“These are all skills we don’t learn in regular classes,” says the 18-year-old student at Lacombe Composite High School.

“You’re not going to learn how to collaborate with community members by sitting in a classroom learning about E = mc2.”

Perez and her classmates are buzzing with excitement after their school’s student-led beekeeping program, goat farm, fruit orchard, tropical greenhouse and other environmental projects were recognized in a global sustainability contest among 10 other schools.

It’s the only North American school to be shortlisted by T4 Education, a global advocacy group, in its World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action contest.

“The projects are coming from the students’ own hearts and passion for taking care of the environment,” says Steven Schultz, an agriculture and environmental science teacher who has been teaching in Lacombe since 1996.

“They are going to be our community leaders — maybe even our politicians — and for them to know what the heartbeat of their generation is (is) extremely important.”

Schultz says the projects are pitched and designed by students in the school’s Ecovision Club, to which Perez belongs, and he then bases a curriculum around those ideas.

The school of about 900 students began reducing its environmental footprint in 2006 when a former student heard Schultz say during a lesson on renewable energy that “words were meaningless or worthless without action,” the 56-year-old teacher recalls.

“She took that to heart and a year later she came back and told me that she wanted to take the school off the grid.”

Schultz and students watched a fire burn down solar panels on the school’s roof in 2010, an event that further transformed his approach to teaching.

“As their school was burning, my students gathered in tears. That day I realized that students really care about the environment and they really care about the projects that they were involved in.”

Since then, 32 new solar panels have been installed, and they produce up to four per cent of the school’s electricity. After the fire, students also wanted to clean the air in their classrooms so they filled some with spider plants, including one in the teachers’ lounge.

More recently, students replaced an old portable classroom on school property with a greenhouse that operates solely with renewable energy. It’s growing tropical fruits, such as bananas, pineapples, and lemons, and also houses some tilapia fish.

Two acres of the school are also covered by a food forest made up of almost 200 fruit trees and 50 raised beds where organic food is grown.

The school also works with a local farm and raises baby goats inside a solar-powered barn that was built with recycled material.

“They breed and milk them at the farm because there are really tight regulations,” says Schultz.

“We take the excrement from the goats and the hay and use it as mulch and fertilizers for our garden. The goats also chew up the grass and allow us not to have to use lawn mowers and tractors”

Perez said her favourite class is the beekeeping program with 12 hives that produce more than 300 kilograms of honey every year.

“I love that they have different roles in their own little societies,” Perez says of the bees.

She says while working with local businesses and groups as a part of her curriculum, she learned she’s passionate about the environment and wants to become a pharmacist so she can continue giving back to her community.

James Finley, a formerly shy Grade 10 student, says the Ecovision Club and environment classes have helped get him out of his comfort zone.

“I made friends, which was a hard thing for me in the beginning. But now I have, like, hundreds,” says the 16-year-old, who enjoyed the lessons he took on harvesting.

“Taylor and Mr. Schultz were the main people that made me stay.”

Schultz says the winners of the contest are to be announced in the fall.

A prize of about $322,000 will be equally shared among five winners.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sunday, July 3, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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