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Calgary community event prepping city youth to deal with 21st century bullies

Delaney Schaeffer says the evolution of bullying in Calgary and across the country reinforces the importance of providing young people with the tools they need to deal with it.

The 3rd year Mount Royal University practicum student is spearheading the creation of an anti-bullying event on Feb. 27 for the 12 Community Safety Initiative (CSI). The event, dubbed All are different, All are one, brings together more than 100 Calgary north and southeast youth to participate in a forum on bullying.

“I think especially now, in 2019, we’re not seeing bullying as we used to see it. It’s not in a direct way. It’s where people can hide online and say whatever they want to say without facing too much repercussion,” Schaeffer said.

“It’s important to still talk about it and educate people on who to talk to and how to prevent it.”

Schaeffer said that not only is bullying taking on a different form, but young people are also expressing themselves in different ways, opening themselves up to be potential targets.

 “It also unfortunately welcomes people in to talk about their own opinions as well. Which could lead to different paths of hate crimes or other nonsense for those demographics,” she said.

She’s hoping the youth who take part will come and meet other young people from their area and feel comfortable connecting and relating to one another over shared experiences.

“I really want the kids who are attending to feel like they can be whoever they want to be without having to adhere to a certain standard and still feel accepted,” Schaeffer said.

The anti-bullying push fits the mission of 12 CSI to create safe neighbourhoods in east Calgary.

“Bullying is definitely a form of not feeling safe. And so 12 CSI not only wants everyone to be safe, but we want everybody to feel safe,” said 12 CSI executive director, Larry Leach.

“Those are two very different things. If you feel like you’re not safe, then you’re not safe. Definitely this event speaks to that. We want kids in our area to feel safe.”

Attendees will also take home tools to help them work through situations that involve bullying, Leach said.

“It’s a long term changing of attitudes, but also giving those who are bullied the resources and the tools in their toolbelt so they can deal with it in an effective way.”

The event coincides with Alberta’s anti-bullying pink shirt day and the first 100 youth will get pink shirts for attending.

More than 24 city partners have signed on to participate – either as presenters or facilitators for the breakout workshops during the forum.

For more information visit 12csi.ca/events.