Bullies, bullying and post-secondary institutions

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Bullying is not only an elementary and high school problem. It’s a post-secondary and workplace problem as well

Sophie Long
News Writer

The idea that bullying is only an elementary or high school problem is far from being true. Bullying is a continual issue that can take place in post-secondary institutions, and even in workplaces. Yet, with teachers and parents working constantly to implement anti-bullying programs and acceptance messages for young children, why is this issue still present, and on such a large scale?

One of the things Ken Montgomery, an education professor and Director of the Saskatchewan Justice Institute, says contributes to this problem is the ways society continues to oppress minority groups without realizing it.

“Some folks have made the argument that anti-bullying programs aren’t all that effective, in large part because they try to legislate and don’t get to the teaching part.” He said. “There is some necessary teaching that needs to happen that addresses the normalized oppression that sets the stage for that intent to harm.”

These “normalized oppressions” were part of what UR Pride’s National Coming Out Day event, held on Oct. 11, discussed. In their safe space, many students and members of Regina’s LGBTQ community spoke out about their experiences and fears related to coming out.

Many felt as though they had to “pick their battles” and look out for “troublemakers” when coming out to coworkers, friends and even family members. Several international students talked about their fears of their sexuality being discovered at home and the possible violent repercussions they might face. One of the most common issues spoken about was the labels that several of these students felt they were categorized into, and the negative labels they were often given by others.


"Some folks have made the argument that anti-bullying programs aren’t all that effective, in large part because they try to legislate and don’t get to the teaching part. There is some necessary teaching that needs to happen that addresses the normalized oppression that sets the stage for that intent to harm.” – Ken Montgomery


“One of the paradoxes is that establishing those labels is an empowering act on one hand and they also help others to understand the complexity,” Montgomery said. “Nevertheless they do act as labels, and whenever we label something, we are excluding [it] at some level.”

Exclusion plays a key role in the bullying cycle. Bullies often take advantage of labels, using them to harm and isolate their targets. The use of exclusion and isolation played a major role in Amanda Todd’s bullying case. Shortly before taking her life, the Coquitlam, B.C. high school student posted a video on YouTube, which ended with the words “I have nobody. I need someone.”

“Normalized oppression sets the conditions for bullying, in my view,” Montgomery said. I want to talk about bullying as the intent to harm, and I want to make that distinct from unintended practices, but they are connected in very important ways.”

Bullying can take many forms – verbal, physical, emotional, psychological, and even cyber. Reports have indicated that Cyberbullying, coupled with physical violence, were major components in Todd’s case.

Bullying continues with age, and it occurs in post-secondary institutions and in workplaces. This is something that Ian MacAusland-Berg, the U of R’s Harassment, Discrimination Prevention and Conflict Resolution coordinator, is aware of.

MacAusland-Berg will be giving a presentation on October 18 called “Creating a Respectful University”, where he will tackle issues of respect, discrimination, and the need for leaders to rebuild the oppressive nature of society’s structure.

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