A new provincial action plan takes on bullying and cyberbullying to reduce incidents and help young people and families who feel the heartbreaking effects, Education Minister Ramona Jennex announced today, Feb. 27.
"Parents care deeply about their children and want them to be happy, healthy, safe and successful," said Jennex. "Bullying can keep that from happening.
"This plan takes on bullying and cyberbullying in many ways to get at the root causes of the behaviour and reduce its effects so our young people may one day see a world where bullying is rare."
The multiyear plan announced today, national Anti-Bullying Day, outlines more than 40 actions to take on bullying and cyberbullying. They involve families, schools, teachers, communities, police, health-care providers and several government departments.
"Addressing the causes of bullying and cyberbullying requires a community response," said Kathleen Richard, anti-bullying co-ordinator at the Department of Education. "The province's action plan takes a collaborative approach to provide supports for young people and their families as they navigate this ever-changing world."
Key actions include:
-- creating an information hub for young people, teacher, parents and community members so help and resources are easy to find and access
-- providing training for school staff to learn how to recognize mental health issues. Right now, all school support staff, such as bus drivers, are being trained to recognize and report bullying
-- organizing an annual conference on bullying and cyberbullying
-- providing grants to schools for professional development of curriculum resources for social and emotional learning that addresses bullying
-- requiring all school boards to report annually incidents of severely disruptive behaviour, including bullying and cyberbullying, to examine causes
-- host a symposium for police leaders in March
-- revising the Nova Scotia School Code of Conduct to identify bullying and cyberbullying behaviours
-- distributing materials on responsible cellphone use to customers entering a new contract
"Bullying is a heartbreaking and complex problem with no easy answers," said Ms. Jennex. "It is a societal issue and everyone can help to prevent it by speaking up. That is how we will make real change."
The plan, announced at Dartmouth High School, supports a community-wide response to bullying and anti-bullying.
"I believe that, at Dartmouth High School, we strive to include everyone despite gender, race, sexuality and religion," said Grade 12 student Rosa Poirier-McKiggan. "We pride ourselves on our diversity of clubs that work toward equality, respect and a progressive future. These groups include Eco Club, Human Rights Club, Club 5, Multicultural Club and Gay Straight Alliance among others."
"By encouraging culturally relevant student engagement, inside and outside of the classroom, we are building students' self-confidence and self-esteem through education and culturally diverse experiences," said Eartha Monard, principal at Dartmouth High School.
The plan's two components, Speak Up: An Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying Behaviour and Speak Up: Actions to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying, can be found at www.ednet.ns.ca .