Culture change needed to erase bullying

Culture change needed to erase bullying

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As the province gets ready to tackle bullying head on, so too is School District 53.
Local administrators, teachers and school officials are preparing to adopt the newly-established anti-bullying strategy called ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education).
The program provides comprehensive intervention strategies to combat bullying in schools. The five-year training promises to develop new online reporting tools, maintain a safe schools coordinator in every district, ensure stronger codes of conduct are developed in schools, and provide online resources for parents.
School District 53 has already embraced the strategy by establishing a leadership team, with Terry Collis as the safe school coordinator.
School board chair Marieze Tarr said elementary teachers will be attending Level 1 training on December 12, when they will learn prevention strategies and how to ensure safe school cultures.
On December 13-14, high school teachers will be attending their Level 2 training (violence prevention and threat/risk assessment).  
In May of 2013, all intermediate students will participate in a cyberbullying workshop presented by the “Children of the Street” group from Vancouver.
“Most of the presenters have had firsthand experiences with cyberbullying and so they will be providing students with strategies to deal with this huge problem,” Tarr said.  
She noted the presenters will teach students how to protect themselves from cyberbullies. There will also be a parent workshop in the evening.
Superintendent of Schools Bev Young said a team from every elementary and secondary school in the district will attend regional training sessions in Kelowna in December.
Shari Anderson and Karen Sinclair will attend from Oliver Elementary School, while Julie-Anne Martin and Dave Foster will attend from Tuc-el-Nuit.
From SOSS, new principal Marcus Toneatto, vice-principal Tracy Harrington, and Karin Maertins will attend.
Young said the district is committed to ensuring student safety.
“We have a district team in place to respond to incoming reports once the reporting tool is implemented.”
-The reporting tool, which is now active but still being refined, can be accessed at www.reportbullyingbc.edudata.ca/apps/bullying/
Oliver school trustee Tamela Edwards said
when it comes to combating bullying in schools we have to ask the question, “Could we do more or could we do better?”
Edward said she is pleased to see the ERASE initiative by the provincial government.
“While I agree with their initial agreement that stopping bullying in schools requires a culture change in our schools, I would also submit that it requires a culture change in our community.”
The trustee said the new strategy is an opportunity for all of us to continue to address bullying that sadly continues in schools across the province.  
“I am particularly glad to see the cyberbullying being addressed. This is an area where I know parents need to be more aware and informed on how to monitor their child’s computer activities.”
At a recent ERASE summit, Premier Christy Clark said stopping bullying requires a culture change in schools, homes and communities.
She noted that everyone must work together to “build a culture of kindness, caring and respect where no child has to wake up in the morning and go to school worrying about what will happen to them that day.”
The summit also focused on cyberbulling –
the newest form of bullying, and how the anonymity of technology has given bullies new weapons like text messaging, chat rooms, and social media outlets to intimidate people.
“Bullying shouldn’t be a rite of passage for young people,” Clark said. “We need to make sure that those who target others, whether in a school hallway or in cyberspace, understand the real world consequences of their actions and become leaders for changing school culture.”
The new ReportBullyingBC.ca online
reporting tool provides vital information, links and tips for parents and students. It also provides victims with a secure and anonymous way to report instances of bullying, threats and other safety concerns. They can easily report incidents or threats from a smartphone or computer.

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