Pro-empathy educator comes to Kitscoty high


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September 2, 2014 10:17 AM

Retired Sgt. Brian Trainor speaks to a group of students at Kitscoty High School about the dangers of cyberbullying. - Jon Clarke Photo

Students learn about potential cyberbullying apps and leaving their mark online

Retired Sgt. Brian Trainor sits waiting in one of Kitscoty High School’s back offices before his presentation in five minutes’ time. That’s when, nearing the end of a passionate rant on bullying and abuse, he just comes out and says it:

“Sympathy means nothing. So you feel sorry for somebody? Big deal – it does no good.”

Trainor believes not in sympathy, but empathy, the concept of walking in another person’s shoes, feeling someone’s pain and making personal changes to end that pain.

That’s the true key to bringing bullying to an end, he says.

“If (bullies) were empathetic,” said Trainor with emphasis, “we wouldn’t have cyberbullying. We wouldn’t have bullying.”

And a world without bullies is no doubt what Trainor fights for.

Back in 2000, Trainor wrote and drew a 26-page comic book called Jason’s Nightmare, which told the story of a bully who ultimately decides on reform. Through corporate donations, Trainor was able to print around 21,000 copies of the comic and, paired with an illustrated teacher’s guide with chapterto- chapter discussion questions, donated them to schools across Saskatchewan, in a bid to teach students and instructors alike about bullying and how it can be prevented and even stopped.

Since his retirement in 2006, Trainor has become a public educator on the topic, travelling from conferences to schools across the country to talk about bullying in all its forms. Last Thursday, he attended the first day of school at Kitscoty High School to inform the student body as well as teachers on the dangers of bullying with a focus on cyberspace. And that’s a little different than abuse in the real world, because, Trainor says,“Kids don’t know who their aggressor is. It could be their friend who’s fooling around, they don’t know. And so they start to really question ‘who can I trust? Who can’t I trust? And it really plays on kids’ heads.”

The topics covered at the assembly ranged from apps with the potential to become weapons for a bully, like Facebook and Snapchat, to LGBT harassment, and the concept of leaving their own digital footprint. The assembly’s end goal was to raise awareness in the area of cyberbullying and to teach students how to make responsible use of their electronic devices.

Later that afternoon, Trainor met with parents and teachers to further convey those values.

“The technology is prevalent,” said Kitscoty High School principal Dave Sherbinin.

“So our job becomes a little more challenging, to stay current.”

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