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What is bullying exactly? According to the CRAYS Report (Cancer Risk Assessment in Youth Survey) done by the University of Waterloo [for full report go to: https://osis.uwaterloo.ca/  Login: georgel786 password: Canada] bullying is a form of abuse that is repeated over time, from a person in a position of power, targeted at a specific victim. Repeated victimization by a bully decreases the victim’s power and increases the bully’s power.

The CRAYS report states that there are 5 common types of bullying. See picture below for most common types:

This stat comes directly from GESS, meaning that students report verbal attacks as the most common way they get bullied. The CRAYS report also found that of students who bully, this is the most common way they bully others.

Another interesting fact that the report found is that those who bully and those who get bullied report the highest levels of substance abuse.

Here are the stats from George Elliot on who is being bullied and who is being the bully:

We can see by these stats that a total of 34% of students report being bullied in the last month, whereas only 18% of students admit to bullying others in the last month. Whether this is a case of not wanting to admit to being a bully or of not recognizing their actions as bullying is up for debate and should be looked further into.  

We can also see that more females seem to be being bullied than males and that they are also more likely to be the perpetrators of bullying.

What can we do to provide safe environments and address bullying at GESS? The CRAYS report makes the following recommendations:

  • Recognize that bullying is a societal problem; schools cannot resolve it on their own. Parents and the wider community need to be informed and involved as well.
  • Teach students how to identify bullying, especially non-physical incidences. Knowledge is power.
  • Train staff to recognize bullying behaviours, encourage them to intervene early and to work to prevent escalations. 
  • Train students to see that bullying is everyone’s problem, not just the victims or the bully’s. Teach them to work together to end situations and create an atmosphere in the school that encourages kids to speak up.
  • Enable students to report bullying incidents anonymously, perhaps through a school website
  • Run restorative justice programs if/when bullying incidents occur.

It seems appropriate with school back in session and kids taking on new routines and schedules to talk about mental wellness and how we can work together as parents, teachers and the community to support kids and help prepare them for challenges they may face this year.

This 3rd article from the Cancer Risk Assessment in Youth Survey (CRAYS), done by the University of Waterloo here at George Elliot Secondary School, looks at the results on mental wellness and connectedness in our school [for full report go to: https://osis.uwaterloo.ca/  Login: georgel786 password: Canada].

It states that mental wellness is “the ability to think, feel, and act in ways that strengthen our capacity to enjoy life and deal with challenges as they arise”.  It is measured by positive social connections (relatedness), feelings of success (competence) and perception of personal freedom (autonomy). See the chart below for stats at GESS:

Essentially the report says is that if we cultivate mental wellness in our children we lay the foundation to them making healthy behaviour choices and having academic success. Those who feel they are connected to the school and feel their teachers are supportive of them are more likely to have better results during high school and are more likely to graduate. They are also less likely to engage in unhealthy/risky behaviours such as drinking, smoking and trying marijuana. Have a look at how our school compares to others across BC and Canada:

 

As you can see, 88% strongly agree or agree that they feel safe at GESS, which is close to the national average. 74% strongly agree or agree that they feel happy at the school and 74% also feel a part of the school. This indicates that our levels are just a bit lower than other schools across BC and Canada in most areas.

What can we do to support a stronger culture of wellness at GESS? The article outlines many different strategies, suggesting that school connectedness begins with a positive school atmosphere, promoting a united school community and having kids and teachers take pride in the physical and social environment of their school. A culture of wellness may start at the school but is ideally supported through partnering with parents and the wider community.

More specifically we can promote and cultivate mental wellness by encouraging kids to get involved in their community, do some volunteering, help them learn to appreciate what they have, encourage them to recognize and share their personal gifts, help them express emotions, help them learn how to deal in a positive manner with negative thoughts, and support their hobbies and personal interests.

CRAYS logo

Last year, the University of Waterloo conducted a Cancer Risk Assessment in Youth Survey (CRAYS) at George Elliot Secondary (GES) in Lake Country. The Cancer Risk Assessment in Youth Survey, funded by the Canadian Cancer Society, is a pan-Canadian survey of students in grades 9 to 12. The survey looked at 5 interconnected issues facing students that impact their wellbeing – mental health, bullying, tobacco use, nutrition, UV exposure and school connectedness.

The CRAYS report provides parents, schools and the community in general, with some very interesting and relevant information about the health and well-being of our youth. The survey was completed by 460 students at GES

To access the full report online go to www.osis.uwaterloo.ca and enter the following information:

Login: georgeel786
Password: Canada

As part of the Health Communities Capacity Building Grant (Stream One)) that LCHPS recently received, the Society will be reviewing these findings and looking for opportunities to take action on them. LCHPS is also conducting its own Youth Survey and will compile these results, along with other research such as that found in the CRAYS report, into a Community Health and Wellness plan.

E CIGARETTES

This is the second article in a series of articles looking at the results from the Cancer Risk Assessment in Youth Survey (CRAYS) done by the University of Waterloo at George Elliot Secondary (GES) in Lake Country (full report available here). This month we are looking at their findings with respect to E-cigarettes and flavoured tobacco use among the youth in Lake Country.

In general, the jury is still out on e-cigarettes (also known as vaporizers, vapes, vape pens, hookah pens, etc.) While some argue it is a way to reduce harm, e-cigarettes may actually promote trying nicotine products in students or promote continuation of an addiction in adults. At George Elliot, 35% of students report having tried e-cigarettes (see chart below).

E CIG CHART

The growing popularity of these products is concerning because students commonly misconceive alternate forms of tobacco as not being as bad for them as cigarettes. Research shows that these alternative forms of tobacco may be worse than cigarettes in some cases.

The CRAYS report also found that of the students attending George Elliot Secondary, 52% of them had used a flavoured tobacco product in the last month (see chart below). This is significantly higher than the provincial average of 44% and slightly higher than the national average of 49%.

tobacco chart

It is clear that flavoured tobacco products are becoming more popular among young people. As the CRAYS report explains, “Flavoured tobacco has greater appeal among students: they perceive them as less risky, and perceive the smoke as causing less irritation.” There is national concern that the availability of these flavoured tobacco products may stalling progress in decreasing tobacco initiation and use among Canadian youth.

The CRAYS survey further found that at George Elliot of the 26% of the students who have tried smoking a cigarette, 52% of those who have tried tobacco also tried a flavoured tobacco produce and 35% have tried smoking marijuana.

It is important that we make sure students in Lake Country are aware that all tobacco products (e.g., cigarillos, cigars, smokeless tobacco flavoured tobacco, etc.) have the same level of health risk. Youth also need to know that E-cigarettes also have risk and we do not yet know the full extent of these. 

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We acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia.

We acknowledge the financial assistance of the Central Okanagan Foundation.

ABOUT US

The Lake Country Health Planning Society (LCHPS) is a non-profit organization that has been supporting community wellness since 1982.