This is my favourite season, and part of it is due to the changes that happen in the autumn in Ontario. When the leaves change colour it creates my favourite scenery in all the world. The arrival of harvest season brings change to what appears on produce shelves and dinner tables (hello, pumpkin pie!). And, in likely my least popular opinion to ever appear in this space, when the weather changes and the temperature cools, my body and my soul feel better as I feel like I can breathe more easily.

While there are certain changes that we do embrace, research also shows us that certain changes may be indicators that a child is being bullied. As the school year rolls on, it’s important to watch for changes in children’s behaviour that may include, but are not limited to: saying that they don’t want to go to school or take part in activities that they have previously enjoyed; behaving very differently or acting withdrawn; experiencing an increase in lost or broken possessions; having trouble sleeping; threatening to hurt themselves; or unexplainedly crying or saying they feel sick on school days. These kinds of changes are just some of the signs experts list that can illustrate that a child is being bullied. On the flipside, if one notices that a child is exhibiting changes like diminishing levels of respect shown at home, increased aggression with siblings or signs of physical altercations like bruises and scrapes, it is possible that the child is involved in bullying others.

In either event, change may be sign that it is time to intervene.

Thinking Forward is committed to helping eliminate bullying by bringing arts-based programming to schools. Through participating, students are encouraged to show empathy, to value others and their contributions, to take ownership of their own actions, and to commit to making positive change – these and other values are important building blocks in stopping bullying and in building stronger communities.

-K.L.