PARENTS need to get savvy about what's happening online and teens need to band together to stand up to bullies, Argyle secondary students told a bullying forum on Thursday.
Too often, parents still have a "stereotypical view of a bully - a tough kid who pushes people into lockers," said Grade 12 student Lucy Fox. But Fox and other students said it's not like that anymore.
"(Adults) still don't understand what goes on on social media," said student Robyn Moore. "It's really important that adults get to know."
Behdad Mahichi talked about "keyboard warriors" who feel safe posting hateful comments online that they would never say in person.
Several students spoke about being bullied themselves or witnessing people close to them being bullied.
"I was bullied a few years ago in Grade 9," said Cyrus Matheson. Matheson said the kids who bullied him did it both online and in the school.
"I was bullied because I was different. I was a small kid and I dressed differently, I guess, and I was bullied to the point where I was threatened to be hurt, online and at school," he said.
Matheson said he didn't want to tell anyone, and it was only when teachers noticed that adults intervened. For a time after that, the bullying actually got worse, he said. But eventually it stopped.
Matheson said kids who are bullied need to realize it's not their fault.
But he said there should also be consequences for the bullies. Schools "have to be strict and they have to crack down," he said. "If we let (bullies) off, they're just going to think they can get away with it."
The high school students shared their comments during a live lunchtime broadcast of CBC Radio's Almanac from Argyle's library. Listeners from around the province also phoned in and sent comments in online during the show, organized in the wake of bullied Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd's suicide last week.
On Monday, Robin Tomlin - a former student of Argyle - will also be at the school to receive a personal apology for a homophobic slur that was printed beside his name in the high school yearbook 42 years ago. Tomlin recently went public with his story of being haunted by high school bullying for decades.
"It speaks to us about the longevity and the impact any kind of bullying can have," said principal Elizabeth Bell.
Students who spoke made it clear they still face high school bullying, although the medium has changed.
Paul Rubin, Argyle's guidance counsellor, said he rarely hears of bullying that doesn't involve social media. When word spreads that way, other kids are often quick to get involved, he said, making the situation worse.
Brenda Morrison, director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University, said it's important adults learn about social media so they can teach kids values and rules about how to behave online.
"We don't even know what it means to be a responsible citizen in cyber space," she said.
Morrison said involving peers is crucial to stop bullying.
"The trajectory of Amanda Todd may have been a lot different if someone stepped up," she said.
That was a theme repeated by the students, who said it's only with the support of friends and peers that most teens feel strong enough to stand up to their bullies.
In an interview after the forum, Rubin added while peer approval is important, it's also crucial that parents be involved in their kids' lives. That can make the difference between a teen being resilient enough to withstand an episode of bullying, he said.
Rubin said it's been suggested parents spend an average of only five minutes a day talking to their kids. "We can't form relationships in five minutes a day that are going to be strong enough to withstand the pressures young people face today," he said. "We have to make sure that statistic of five minutes a day is busted."