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Pay attention to bullying, Coquitlam principal says
A local educator and bullying expert says events like Amanda Todd's suicide challenge the community and create sadness as well as fear.
Cindi Seddon, principal of Summit middle school and author of two books on bullying, urges parents to stay in touch with their children's Facebook pages and be on alert for worrying behaviour.
"If you see anything concern, get a hold of somebody — police, whatever," Seddon said, noting, "The kids know before we do."
Seddon will be a panelist during a presentation about bullying Oct. 24 at Terry Fox Theatre in Port Coquitlam. The event, planned by the Joint Family Court and Youth Justice Committee in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross, was in the works long before Amanda's much-publicized death. It will go ahead and, Seddon says, should answer questions parents have about bullying. Bullying: It Ends With You will include a screening of the documentary How to Help: A Youth Perspective on Bullying. Experts in the field will also be on hand to field questions and give advice.
"I think the fact that we had this pre-planned and the Family Court and Youth Justice Committee was working on it is just almost like testimonial to the fact that we know this is an issue," Seddon said.
Bullying: It Ends With You will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Terry Fox Theatre, 1260 Riverwood Gate, Port Coquitlam. Register at www.eventbrite.ca (online registration) or email@example.com.
Organizers are already planning for an overflow crowd, according to sources.
Meanwhile, at Seddon's school, the students, although younger, were also deeply concerned about Todd's death and many want to do something to raise awareness about the issue of bullying. Seddon said she will wait to see what is most appropriate.
Many young people will have already seen the heartbreaking video Amanda Todd made five weeks before she died. Seddon watched it with her own 15-year-old daughter because she didn't want her to watch it alone.
"We talked through it," Seddon said, "She was empathetic, you know, she's a 15-year-old girl."
It's important for parents to be open to discussing the issue of bullying with their children. But experts are also raising awareness about the importance of knowing the signs of suicide.
Parents are welcome to attend a community forum on youth suicide planned for Nov. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Terry Fox Theatre, 1260 Riverwood Gate, Port Coquitlam.
Mike Pledge, a student services co-ordinator for School District 43, said the forum has been in the works for some months and will include a question-and-answer session and live web streaming of a presentation by experts in the field.
Registration is requested if possible; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pledge said he hopes parents can come and get some of their questions answered about suicide.