A different way to deal with bullying

Don’t call them bullies – and their targets aren’t victims, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 3.

Bound to be controversial in light of the recent suicide of 11-year-old Mitchell Wilson, a new approach to bullying uses a "no-blame, problem-solving response" rather than punishing aggressive kids and creating a victim mentality among those they target, say leading Canadian bullying researchers.

Bullying is a relationship problem, says York University’sDebra Pepler, considered one of Canada’s top bullying experts and a founder of PREVNet.

A good intervention would be to hold meetings, either with an aggressor and a victim’s parents, or even the victim, to "get some dialogue going."

"Putting a label on them really restricts thinking," said Pepler [a distinguished research professor in the Faculty of Health and York’s LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research]. "Calling them a bully suggests they are always aggressive and that’s part of who they are."

In fact, they may be bullied at home, or gain respect in school for being aggressive, she says. Children who bully at a moderate or high rate are more likely to be delinquent or sexually harass, so "adults need to step in and help them get onto a pathway where they get the attention and leadership opportunities they want in a positive rather than a negative way."

Pepler said schools alone can’t solve the problem. Bullying happens in the workplace and in the home, and adults need to model better behaviour and help children "get along in a positive way."

Edward Greenspan rebuts Conrad Black

When I noticed that Conrad Black had thanked and acknowledged thousands of people in his new book and I wasn’t one of them, I sensed that I probably wasn’t going to like it, wrote Edward Greenspan [LLB ’68] in The Globe and Mail Sept. 30, in a lengthy critical review.

Conrad Black and I were first-year classmates at Osgoode Hall Law School in 1965. I didn’t really know him at that time, but over the years we have met at different places. On one of those occasions, I stopped to say hello to him in a restaurant. We chatted and at one point he said to me, “You’d better leave, I don’t want people to think I need a criminal lawyer.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but he wasn’t joking.

 ‘It’s back to bland’, says York prof of provincial election campaign

When people dislike ruling parties, some traditional supporters switch, said York University political science Professor Dennis Pilon [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], adding that "voters aren’t engaged" in the current campaign, wrote The Toronto Sun Oct. 3.

Calling [Dalton] McGuinty "a milquetoast," Pilon said: "I think Ontarians are comfortable with bland. It’s back to bland."

York grad runs in York West

A lifelong resident of York West, Tom Rakocevic [BSc ’00, MSc ’06, BEd ’06] has a master’s degree in science and a degree in education from York University, wrote Inside Toronto Sept. 30 in an election feature on the provincial riding.

For 20 years, he has been working for safer neighbourhoods, affordable and better education, a cleaner environment and the rights of tenants and workers. Rakocevic is executive assistant to Toronto Councillor Anthony Perruzza and has worked to improve tax and water rebate programs for seniors and brought a football team to C.W. Jefferys.

York prof’s partner runs again in Toronto-Danforth

I have proudly served the residents of Toronto-Danforth since being elected in 2006, wrote NDP incumbent Peter Tabuns in the Beach-Riverdale Mirror Sept. 30 for an election feature on the provincial riding. I have an adult son, Anton, and live with my partner, Shawn Kerwin. She’s a theatre professor at York University [Faculty of Fine Arts].

York professor emerita writes to ease chronic pain from 1996 car crash

Sometimes, when the pain drugs don’t reach her, Lous Heshusius [professor emerita, Faculty of Education] lies on the floor as still as a corpse, wrote Postmedia News Oct. 3, in a story that recounted the car crash that ended her teaching career at York. "Please," she’ll whisper to herself, "Please, let it pass."

She has no memory of the impact, no memory of being broadsided by a car travelling 90 kilometres an hour as she pulled away from a stop sign on a country road north of Toronto in September of 1996. No memory of her car being rammed across the intersection and flipping into a ditch.

When police found her unconscious and slumped in the mangled front seat, her face bloodied from the shattered glass of the windshield she hit when her seat belt came undone, they thought she was dead. Doctors at the hospital told her the force of the impact was so intense that her neck could have been broken; death could have been instant.

"Such a painless journey it would have been," Heshusius wrote in her published memoir of a life lived in pain.

Instead, the accident sent Heshusius into a world she could not have prepared for, a state experienced by millions of Canadians every day – one of unrelenting, incapacitating and life-altering pain.

Heshusius says what’s needed is a sea change in society’s mindset about pain. "There is so much in society that works against pain relief, against us getting help – structural problems, political problems, funding problems."

She says she can’t count the times she has heard, "But you look fine." Or, "Can’t you take some pain pills for that?" "People have no idea what kind of lives we live," she says.

During the worst years, "those horrible, dark, dark days" between 1999 and the end of 2003, she says she thought of suicide every day. She says she tried to talk to six health-care professionals. The response was, essentially: "We don’t want to go there."

"I’m still angry with that. I’m still furious."

Were it not for her two daughters, she would not be alive today, she says. ("There is no question about it.") One of her girls once told her she would give up her arms if it meant freeing her mother from her world of pain.

They were her salvation. So, too, were the hundreds of pages of jotted notes she kept that would later form her book, Inside Chronic Pain: An Intimate and Critical Account.

Graduate student focuses on youth vote message

Halton’s NDP candidate elicited laughs and applause from the large audience gathered during last night’s all-candidates meeting, wrote the Milton Canadian Champion Sept. 30.

When asked about new jobs available for recent university grads returning to Halton, 24-year-old Nik Spohr cleverly responded, "New Democratic candidate, that’s the job I’ve chosen to take."

Spohr…took questions from the local chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women and the audience during the event.

Asked about the youth vote – a fitting question seeing as the all-candidates meeting took place at Milton District High School (MDHS) – the MPP hopefuls emphasized the importance of Ontario’s young voters.

"This has been one of my primary messages of the campaign," said Spohr, a York University graduate student and MDHS grad. "I make an effort to tell every teenager I meet that at age 13 you can join a party. And the powers that be may be a little scared of the young people taking over."

Couple use their rental home to showcase upcoming young artists

Among the more than 130 exhibitions around the city will be Julia Abraham’s "Do You See What I See?" at the independent Butcher Gallery, located in the living room of a bungalow in Little Portugual, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 1.

Inside, Brad Tinmouth [BFA Spec. Hons. ’10], who co-runs Butcher with his girlfriend, Lili Huston-Herterich [BFA Spec. Hons. ’10], is preparing to set up Abraham’s show. "We want people to engage with the gallery as what it is, part of our home."

Tinmouth is tall and rail thin, with dark hair and a boyishly engaging manner. He and Huston-Herterich are both 23 and recent grads from York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Their own work encompasses painting and collage as well as conceptual pieces and new media.

At last year’s Nuit Blanche, they mounted an exhibition on Yonge Street that spoofed the sometimes frenetic dynamic of the annual event. For "Wait Until You See This," the couple set up tall black curtains and, like so many Nuit Blanche events, people joined a lineup to get inside. But once through the curtains, you exited another set of curtains. The "exhibition" was all about the anticipation of waiting in line to see an exhibition.

"Some people liked it," Tinmouth recalls, "and some people were mad at us. If they’d read the description, we thought they’d get the joke."

Franchisees offer advice on opening more stores

You could say Laury Hollend [BA ’84] was destined to preside over a Baskin-Robbins mini empire, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 1, in a story about successful franchisees speaking at a conference.

A confessed ice-cream fanatic, Hollend was in his third year at York University when his parents and uncle asked if he would be interested in operating a Baskin-Robbins location they’d been eyeing at York Mills Road and Bayview Avenue.

It seemed a no-brainer. "Baskin-Robbins was an extremely popular franchise at the time (1983)," Hollend recalls. "It was the only ice cream of significance around, and the store at York Mills and Bayview was doing extremely well."

With his family’s support, the 22-year-old Hollend embarked on a three-week training session at Baskin-Robbins headquarters, where he learned how to establish and run a business.

The York Mills location continued to prosper and, confident that Baskin-Robbins was a good fit, Hollend and his family decided to expand beyond the one location. Today, he operates four Baskin-Robbins stores across the GTA.

The ground war

The Progressive Conservatives are pinning their hopes on lawyer Pam Hundal to unseat Liberal Linda Jeffrey in Brampton Springdale, wrote the National Post Oct. 1. Hundal’s last shot at Queen’s Park was unsuccessful: She lost by a substantial margin to the Liberal incumbent in Bramalea-Gore-Malton.

This time around, the race took on an added element of drama when local media pounced on revelations that Hundal’s husband was facing sexual assault charges. "The fact of Hundal’s ‘scandal’ might be a bit of an issue," York University political scientist Robert Drummond [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies] said, noting while it may draw her some sympathy votes, others may react negatively. The party has continued to support Hundal, and is hoping the federal Conservative surge in Brampton will translate to the provincial stage.

Mudslinging – circa 1836

The Ontario election campaign, with just a few days to go, has seen the typical nastiness emerge in the form of attack ads on TV and radio and an emphasis on polls and races, wrote Professor Duncan Koerber of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies in the Toronto Star Oct. 3.

This style of election coverage is in Ontario’s political genes. All the way back to the first competitive media environments in Upper Canada – the 1820s and 1830s – elections saw nasty battles play out in the public media.

Long before the Internet, television, radio and even electricity itself, citizens of Upper Canada bought newspapers to learn about who ran in ridings across the colony. People were new to the act of voting, and candidates tried desperately to get their votes.

Campaigns in the ridings around Toronto were not heavily covered until the 1820s, when Torontonians could open up their text-heavy four-page newspapers and find them packed with dramatic coverage. Newspapers were partisan, not objective, run often by the politicians running in those elections. Dalton McGuinty, Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath can only dream of that kind of political control of the media.

Partisan articles, written anonymously, regularly praised the speeches of a newspaper’s favoured candidates and criticized the speeches of political enemies.

Media outlets today clearly obsess over polls and represent elections as simple races. This is not a new obsession. Upper Canadian editors could not resist printing the latest voting results. Elections in that time were held over multiple days and no laws existed about reporting mid-poll results. Editors encouraged readers to get to the polls if a favoured candidate found himself behind in the count.

Duncan Koerber is a professor of professional writing at York University,  noted The Globe. His research on the media coverage of early elections will appear this fall in the Canadian Journal of Communication.

York grad with multiple degrees was murdered in Bermuda

George Lynch [BAS ’98, BAS Spec. Hons. ’00, BA ’03] had to be persuaded to move to Bermuda but once he arrived he found his “inner Johnny Barnes” and talked to everyone he met, wrote Bermuda’s The Royal Gazette online Oct. 3, in one of a series of articles on unsolved murders.

Those who attended a memorial service for the 40-year-old murder victim on May 13, 2010, heard touching tributes to a loving husband, father and son who was “truly a man of the people, for the people”.

Lynch, affectionately known as Peter, was born in Kingston, Jamaica and had dreams of becoming a jockey as a young man. He eventually switched gears and moved to Canada, aged 25, to be with his older siblings and father. Lynch settled in Toronto where he took many jobs in order to fund his education. He gained degrees in economics, general management and administrative studies from York University, as well as certificates in human resources management and Canadian securities.

He also studied to become a certified management accountant and, according to his mother-in-law Rita Woolridge, was “just on the verge” of completing his CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exams when he was fatally shot on May 5.

Lynch’s family said he met the “love of his life”, Bermudian Nekesha Holdipp [BA Spec. Hons. ’02, BEd ’06, MES ’06], at York University’s Black Students Alliance and eventually persuaded her to become his bride.

On the evening he was shot, Lynch was visiting a neighbour who had given evidence in a Supreme Court trial days before.

Detective Inspector Michael Redfern, who is leading the murder investigation, told The Royal Gazette: “Mr. Lynch was an innocent member of the public. He was not affiliated to any gangs or anything like that.”

Stratford-area woman Miss Oktoberfest

Brittany Graul [BA Hons. ’10] was crowned this year’s Miss Oktoberfest Friday, wrote the Waterloo Region Record Oct. 3.

Graul, of Brunner – located north of Stratford – is the 43rd Miss Oktoberfest and will hold the title until Sept. 28, 2012. She will reign over this year’s festival, which kicks off on the Thanksgiving weekend, running from Oct. 7-15.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from York University in honours political science and law & society. She has previously served as an ambassador of several fairs and festivals, so she is considered well prepared to represent Oktoberfest over the coming weeks. Graul hopes to attend law school one day, and wants to work in patent litigation or the securities field.

On air

  • Jennifer Steves, associate director of the Centre for Vision Research at York University, spoke about brain research on CBC Radio’s “Spark” Oct. 1.
  • Mark Winfield, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about energy as an issue in the provincial election on CBC Radio Oct. 2.