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When we spoke with him, Camden MacKenzie was nine years old, but quick to point out that’s “almost ten.” Like many kids his age, he enjoys hockey and playing games on the computer and online.
Last year Camden’s grade four class took part in a program called Keeping Kids Safe in a Cyber World. It’s an initiative of Family SOS. It’s facilitated in schools by volunteers with education in Social Work, Criminal Justice, Family Studies, Child and Youth Development, and Health and Wellness programs. It’s also proudly funded by a Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia Community Grant!
According to the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyber Bullying report, 39% of all elementary, junior high and high school students in Nova Scotia have been bullied online at one point or another, with more than half the students claiming to know someone who has been or is being bullied.
Over six sessions, Keeping Kids Safe covers multiple topics. The program begins with an overview of what children can do to protect themselves online by keeping personal information private, and practicing ‘netiquette.’
Leaders define cyber bullying and how it differs from traditional bullying. Participants are encouraged to become upstanders, rather than bystanders, to online bullying.
The final set of sessions is focused on mental health and self-care. The group discusses anxiety, stress and depression as it relates to childhood, adolescence, and online encounters. The children also learn about self-care strategies and where they can turn for help.
Through Keeping Kids Safe, children and youth are learning to protect and promote their own mental wellness in our increasingly digital world. Camden says he’s become more aware of how his online activity can impact others.
Thank you for helping create a better, safer future, one click at a time!
Story written August 2014
Story photography generously provided by Lori Buhlman.
Learn more about Lori's work