Bullying is still with us 60 years after the death of Alan Turing

On December 11th, the Jer’s Vision team was invited to a pre-screening of the new film The Imitation Game, where Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing — the eccentric, socially awkward, British mathematician who led the effort to break the Nazi’s secret Enigma code and created “turing machines” which, today, we call computers. — but the film also traces the severe bullying Turing faced as a child, and the trials he endured as a gay man in Britain at a time when homosexuality was a crime. Turing emerges from the film as a hero for gay rights and as the embodiment of an ideal called diversity, which he mentions in his essay. It became apparent to me during the film that bullying is still with us today, even 60 years after the death of Alan Turing.

Be kind, resourceful, beautiful, friendly, have initiative, have a sense of humour, tell right from wrong, make mistakes, fall in love, enjoy strawberries and cream, make some one fall in love with it, learn from experience, use words properly, be the subject of its own thought, have as much diversity of behaviour as a person, do something really new.” (Turing 445)

Today, Turing’s “differences”, due to the traumatic effects of bullying, would probably have resulted in his diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome – making school extremely difficult for him. While there are rules in place to address physical abuse and bullying, there is significantly less done around verbal and bullying done online. Almost as if by fate, the modern day computer is used more than any other medium by youth to communicate and socialize, but to also find comfort and refuge from day-to-day problems they may be facing. However, the rapid increase of cyber-bullying signals an urgent call to action for administrators as well as educators to protect children and youth on this platform. Anti-bullying and anti-discrimination programming is imperative to combat prejudices within our school systems. We are now well on our way to ensure that these programs will be in place thanks to the “The Safe & Accepting Schools Act”, which was passed into law in 2012, to prevent and address inappropriate behaviours in our school communities.

Jer’s Vision has been working hard over the last 10 years to create safe(r) spaces in schools by providing presentations, resources, and workshops for educators. On April 10th, Jer’s Vision will be hosting the first ever Ontario Educators Conference to help implement the “Accepting Schools Act”. Participants will be given hands-on tools from education professionals, lawyers, LGBTQ advocates, and academics to understand and promote a safer school environment. The training will include three focused workshop streams in which participants can choose to partake in a wide array of workshops. We are excited to announce that there will be a workshop led by the renowned Dr. Fae Mishna on becoming an Ally to equip educators with the knowledge and skills to interrupt cyber-bullying by empowering and supporting students who are targets of these behaviors.

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” — The Imitation Game

To sign up, or for more information, please contact me, the Training Educator coordinator.

Have a great weekend,

David MacMillan
Educator Training Coodinator
training@jersvision.org