Bullying attack ads fail to set behavioural examples for youth


by admin on April 28, 2011

The Editor,

An open letter to all federal electoral candidates:


I am a voting Canadian who works as a secretary in a Canadian high school, serving youth ages 12 through 17. As part of this educational team, I have helped organize anti-bullying days, hosted cyber-bullying workshops for students and parents and have had many discussions with staff about eliminating bullying and its effects. It is commonly accepted that bullying is a negative behaviour that must be dealt with openly and swiftly. Students must be educated about its harmful effects if we are to have any hope of minimizing the damage caused by this pervasive and wide-spread negativity.

This is why I am having such a difficult time watching the expensive advertising put forward by our country’s leaders and those who wish to become such. This is basic bullying and harassment at its worst. When a sound bite of an opponent is played repeatedly out of context to diminish this person, I look to the individuals who authorized payment of this unacceptable behaviour and put another mark on the “con” side of voting for their party.

Within a 60-second commercial spot, over 50 seconds are regularly put toward damaging another person’s reputation with vague promises filling the other 10 seconds. I want 60 seconds of concrete plans for our country and the reasons why you are the best candidate.  If a parliamentarian’s attendance in the House of Commons is dismal, I believe the information should come from our reporters, whose job it is to keep the public informed.   If you are using cartoon characters to represent an opponent, odds are it’s not for the humour but for the damage that can be done to another.

Who shall our students look to for a standard of conduct? Our country’s leaders are not setting an example that should be followed by our youth. At our school, we have a democracy that elects our student council and all students participate in mock elections.   Had these students performed at the level set by our electoral candidates, they would all be suspended for bullying, harassment and slander.

Are students the only ones who are accountable for their actions and words? Are these politicians exempt from the expectations of proper conduct we have of our students?  Unfortunately, all political parties are involved to some degree in this negative behaviour and we must vote for one of them. Personally, I am looking for the party with the best standards of behaviour and the search is not progressing well at all. Politicians:  Please think of our youth when you advertise and understand that bullying is unacceptable for every Canadian. I’m not looking forward to May 2.


Lynn Visentin

Low, Quebec