Shriners #CutTheBull comes to Royal Vale school
Jeffrey, a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children, was bullied for over seven years. On Thursday morning February 22 at Royal Vale School in NDG, the 19-year-old told students about the bullying he faced, hoping others can learn from his experience and encouraging them to #CutTheBull. For the past two years, Jeffrey has been touring schools in the Montreal-area with Canada Shriners Hospital. So far, the hospital has visited more than 35 schools within its #CutTheBull school tour campaign and spoken to over 5,000 students. In the coming months, Canada Shriners Hospital hopes to make presentations in schools across the country.
"Children with physical disabilities are twice as likely to be bullied. This has a clear impact on their academic, physical and emotional development,” says Jacques Boissonneault, Administrator of Shriners Hospitals for Children - Canada. “Many of our patients have visible scars or disabilities, which unfortunately makes bullying a common problem. That's why we decided to be part of the fight and start our #CutTheBull campaign."
On this Pink Shirt Day, an international anti-bullying day, it is worth remembering that this destructive phenomenon continues to be a serious problem in Canada: 75% of Canadians say they have been affected by bullying.
“Bullying is a problem we take very seriously at the English Montreal School Board,” says Daphna Leibovici, Violence prevention specialist at the EMSB. “This is an opportunity for all of us to consider why a person’s physical disability makes them an easy target for bullying and what steps we need to take to challenge those discriminatory attitudes and behaviours,” Leibovici adds.
“We’re fortunate to not have a big bullying problem at Royal Vale, but we believe it’s in part because we take it seriously,” adds Nathalie Lacroix-Maillette, Principal. “We discuss bullying several times every school year to keep it top of mind. We liked the idea of this presentation because we’ve heard great things about it and because it’s not often we have teens coming to talk about issues like bullying to other teens.”
Born without a right hand or right foot, Jeffrey, 19, had to deal with bullying as of grade one. The bullying continued throughout elementary school and in grade seven, the situation became violent. Jeffrey was beaten-up by a group of twelve boys, who threw rocks and food at him, beat him, and threw away his prosthetic leg. The police broke-up the fight, but Jeffrey then turned inwards, no longer wanting to go to school. "My message to students is simple: do not be afraid to ask for help and report bullying. That's how I finally overcame it. It takes the help of others to get through it," he says.
The #CutTheBull presentation
Shriners Hospitals for Children – Canada developed a presentation against bullying designed for schools with the collaboration of Daphna Leibovici, Violence prevention specialist at the EMSB.
Jeffrey is not the hospital’s only #CutTheBull patient ambassador. Nia, 13, hemiplegic and paralyzed on the right side of her body, and Saoud, 16, with spina bifida, and born with an incomplete spine, are also talking to students about their bullying experiences. All three tell students what it means to grow up with a disability, be faced with bullying and how they overcame it. For them, it's better to focus on people’s abilities and #SeeTheAbility, rather than look at disabilities.
Our hospital does more than provide ultra-specialized orthopedic and neuromuscular care to children. It offers a holistic approach to care including psychological support, rehabilitation, occupational therapy and programs to help children with physical differences to become more confident. #CutTheBull is a good example of this approach.
We encourage children and adults to visit CutTheBull.org. They will find a toolkit and tips to help create an environment of acceptance for everyone, including those living with a disability.
A public service announcement featuring Jeffrey telling us about the #CutTheBull campaign is also available on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/168937016
#CutTheBull is also:
- Nearly 7,000 students met so far;
- Students who, after the presentation, have identified themselves as bullies and ask for help;
- Students who have asked for help after hearing our presentation
- More than 2000 visits on the website since last year;
- Students who, during the presentation, learn techniques to counter bullying;
- Very positive feedback comments from teachers, administrators, students and parents.