DayofPink: Bullying should never be justified

My parents moved to Canada because they believed this country would give us a better, more safer life. And I can’t deny that for the most part, it has. But after hearing yet another heartbreaking story about a teen committing suicide in Nova Scotia after being bullied by her classmates, I sometimes wonder if they were right on the mark.

Rehtaeh Parsons, seen in an undated Facebook photo.

Rehtaeh Parsons was 17 years old when she died
. The teen took her own life after after years of being bullied for a traumatizing event she experienced in 2011. Rehtaeh was allegedly gang-raped by four boys — and despite an investigation, all four of them walk freely today, believed innocent of a crime the may have very well committed.

And the sad part is that this isn’t the first time we’re hearing a story like this. Rehtaeh is just one in dozens of cases across our country where people have taken their lives because of bullying.

I can’t wrap my mind around the thought process where people think it’s okay to intentionally hurt other human beings simply because they can. I get that understanding the psychology of a bully is a lot more involved, but it truly is shocking. And what’s worse is that these are kids. In Rehtaeh’s case, according to her mother, one of the attackers even took a moment to give a thumbs-up in a photo taken when the alleged rape occurred.

It turns out the case has been reopened for investigation, and I hope it will end with different results for the attackers. What kind of a message are we sending our society if these boys get to walk freely if they committed the crime? That there are no consequences for terrible behaviour?

Today is DayofPink: The international day against bullying, discrimination, homophobia and transphobia in schools and communities.

While I think this is a great step towards increasing awareness about a horrible problem that’s affecting our world (made worse because of technology), I think it’s also important to shed light on this subject all year round. Talk to your kids. If you know they’re bullying someone at school, take action. Let them know there are consequences for intentionally hurting other people. The worst thing you can do as a parent is condone their behaviour.

And if you’re being bullied, don’t be scared to speak up. Talk to someone you trust and please remember you’re not alone. There are more people on your side than not. Here are some resources where you can reach out for help:

. Kids Help Phone

. My Gay Straight Alliance

. The Workplace Trauma & Bullying Institute

. Stop a Bully

. How to help your child deal with a bully

. Adult bullying: Is it happening to you?

I don’t mean to sound preachy, but the goal of a community should be to look out for each other rather than to work against one another. So please, let’s just try to be kinder to everyone around us.