No More Bullies had a great start, as Majic 100 brought its campaign to more than 7,000 Ottawa Valley students, and even one school in Barbados, in 2011. But the radio station is looking to continue to share that message, as it kicked off its second annual No More Bullies season at Renfrew Collegiate Institute Tuesday morning, Oct. 2.
Stuntman Stu and his Majic 100 colleagues, Trish Owens and Angie Poirier, were joined by guest speakers Faron Gogo of Youth Net, gay university student Scott Heggart and Erin Dejong of the Canadian Red Cross’s Respect ED program.
They all spoke in the hour-long assembly, to about 500 RCI students and staff, about how to eliminate bullying, and where to go for help when bullied.
The assembly finished off as it began, with the message of No More Bullies. Several students held up sheets of paper that read that message before crumpling them on the floor and being reminded that the effects of bullying don’t easily go away, even if we try to stamp them away. At the conclusion of the assembly, free No More Bullies wristbands were handed out to students.
“I’m thrilled to kick it off here at RCI,” said Stuntman Stu, who many know as the public address announcer for the Ottawa Senators hockey team.
In the absence of National Hockey League activity, because of the current contract stalemate, Stuntman did a quick announcement as if the RCI Raiders were playing: “Raiders goal, his fourth of the season, scored by Number 87, Tyler Kelly …”
But the real focus was the anti-bullying message, as Stuntman said, “I was also bullied, when I was in high school.” The bullying began in Grade 8 and continued for two years, until he mustered up the courage to report the bullying to his principal. When I was in high school I didn’t have Twitter and Facebook following me around 24 hours a day. You do. It’s much harder for you guys than it was for me, but the scars I have inside are ones that I had to live with for a long time. And I hated school.
“I hated going back to school on Monday morning. At least I had the weekend to forget about it. You should never, ever hate school.”
As the bullying continued, he avoided certain hallways and sat at the “loser table” with the other guys that were being bullied. But one day he walked right into the principal’s office and announced that he was fed up, and unable to deal with the bullying any longer.
To his surprise, the principal had the bully paged to the office. Asked what he was bullying Stu, the bully replied, “I don’t know.”
Fortunately, the bullying ended that day, but Stu said no one should never have to carry such a burden for two years, a burden that has resulted in many young people committing suicide.
Those victims included Jamie Hubley, who died in October 2011. Afterwards, his father, Ottawa Coun. Allan Hubley spoke to Majic 100 in an interview played back to the RCI students during the assembly.
As his emotional dad said, his son was a beautiful boy and that he hoped something good could come from his death, by reminding people that bullying shouldn’t be condoned.
Stuntman noted that he’s a dad with kids in school who doesn’t want them to have to suffer the slings and arrows of bullying.
“Bullying is out there, and that’s why we started No More Bullies.”
Faron Gogo, the youth engagement coordinator for the Youth Net mental health program that operates out of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, also spoke at the assembly.
She talked about the symptoms of bullying, like torn clothing, school absenteeism and over- and under-eating. She spoke about the barriers to taking a stand against bullying, like stigma and not knowing where to go for help and what to do when trying to overcome bullying.
Those suggestions included getting involved as a volunteer in the community and spending quality time with friends and family (to avoid being isolated).
Speaker Scott Heggart did just that, when he announced to his family that he was gay. Worried that he’d be rejected, instead he found himself embraced and accepted.
For some time, he prayed to God to make him ‘straight’, but eventually he says he realized that wasn’t going to happen. However, he says the acceptance of his family helped turn his life around, so that he never again entertained thoughts of committing suicide.
“Your support,” he told the RCI students, “can save somebody’s life … All you need to do is say the three magic words: I support you.”
Speaker Erin Dejong of the Canadian Red Cross told the students she didn’t experience verbal or physical bullying in high school, but that she was a victim of what she calls relational bullying … of being left out of social circles, of being intentionally excluded.
She also told the assembly of students that there are two kinds of bystanders. There are those who ‘participate’ by standing by and letting bullying happen, and those who intervene, by stepping up and intercepting the bully in some fashion, or by reporting it to an adult.
In strength there are numbers, if more than one person knows about the bullying, said Dejong. So, don’t hesitate to report bullying, because not reporting it means we’re tolerating it, she added.
“If you take anything from this message, it’s: Don’t be silent.”
Students appeared to embrace the assembly’s message, including Melissa Legault, 16. She called the assembly inspirational and helpful, partly because she too has been a victim of bullying.
The assembly ended with a collective yell of No More Bullies!