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Anti-Bullying Charity Concerned With Number Of 'Prank Calls' Received By Support Network
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A national anti-bullying charitable organization that provides a national 24/7 support line for youth by phone and live chat, along with a school / workplace presentation program, is asking parents and youth to have a discussion about what occurs when a youth 'pulls a prank' by calling a national support line or uses the live chat to 'see what happens'.

In 2014, (2015 statistics are currently being collected) BullyingCanada received 474,710 calls to its national 24/7 support line, 105,954 emails and live chat requests and 1,262, 800 page views on its Website. Unfortunately, BullyingCanada's live chat and support line receive on average one call or live chat request every day from young people who pull pranks.

Most recently, a young man called John (not his real name) contacted BullyingCanada via live chat. He said he was a 14 year-old student from Toronto and that he wanted to end his life because his boyfriend was cheating on him. While we were collecting details in order to get him help, he continued to tell us about his situation. We called 911 in order to start the process of locating John. Toronto Police Service (TPS) worked quickly with BullyingCanada in dispatching officers based on the GPS location that BullyingCanada had.

About half an hour later, we contacted TPS for an update on the file. We were informed that "John" was in fact two teenage girls who were in media class and "wanted to see what would happen". Police located them and spoke to their parents. The girls' actions used three hours of BullyingCanada's resources, not to mention police time.

BullyingCanada believes it is important to talk about what happens when young people pull pranks with crisis support lines. We want to be clear – youth should not feel that they cannot reach out to BullyingCanada for help. Being shy is not uncommon and our support agents are able to help start the conversation and determine how we can help in the best way possible.

"It saddens me to see so many people abusing a tool that is meant to help. I wish I had a resource such as our chat when I was in school, and to abuse it is disheartening. The things we hear and see are of a serious nature and not something to be joked about", said Katie Neu, Co-Executive Director.

"BullyingCanada hears from over 1 million youth and families a year. We have worked on the frontline for over 10 years to ensure that youth get the support they need. I was bullied in school for eleven and a half years. I only wish these types of services were around when I was a child", added Rob Frenette, O.N.B, Co-Executive Director.

BullyingCanada wants to alert the media to this incident so it can become a learning opportunity for youth and their families.