M.P. To Table Petition
FREDERICTON - Robert Frenette was bullied at school for the better part of 12 years.
His torment peaked on one particular day in the ninth grade.
While riding the bus to school, two female students burned the back of his neck with a lighter. The tormentors, a pair of sisters, were never disciplined because none of Frenette's fellow students would confirm the incident happened.
Such memories prompted the Bathurst native to launch a crusade against bullying, including the creation of an anti-bullying website, BullyingCanada.ca, back in 2006.
Now, Frenette has his anti-bullying efforts aimed squarely at Ottawa, where he hopes federal politicians will soon accept his call for an annual bullying awareness day.
Frenette, along with BullyingCanada co-founder Katie Neu, have gathered more than 5,000 signatures from across Canada from people who support the idea. The goal is to label Dec. 17 - the day in 2006 when their website was launched - as bullying awareness day. The occasion would annually be known as Blue Day, chosen for the colour of the anti-bullying awareness ribbon.
Their petition, which was drafted in July, could be presented in the House of Commons as early as Wednesday by New Brunswick MP Mike Allen.
If all goes to plan, a government motion could be passed within a few weeks to officially recognize the annual awareness day.
Frenette, now a 19-year-old journalism student at the New Brunswick Community College Woodstock, wants to help others avoid the torment he endured.
"I don't think we're going to totally curb bullying, but as youth begin to speak up I think, we should be able to significantly help the cause," he said in an interview.
"It's definitely something that, unfortunately, more people need to be educated on."
Allen, the Conservative MP for Tobique-Mactaquac, says he was attracted initially to the idea of an awareness day after attending the first Blue Day event at Woodstock High School in December.
"Bullying used to be one of those things you handled in the schoolyard. But now with the Internet, bullying can become a 24-hour-a-day thing," he said from Ottawa on Monday. "It has really changed a lot and makes you reflect on how tough this is on some of the kids. It can be a real detriment on them being successful in school."
Allen said both bullies and their victims will be better served if the public is more aware of the serious and long-term impacts of bullying.
"If people can go to school in an environment where they feel safe and secure, they will be more productive," he said.
"So I'd dearly love to get this petition presented in parliament this week."
More information about the petition can be found at BullyingCanada.ca.