Almost one-third of students in Ontario experience bullying at school, and one-quarter report having bullied someone else. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2009
The week of November 18-24 is Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in Ontario. Locally, provincially and nationally the discussion about stopping and preventing bullying is a conversation that must be had at every level.
What is bullying? Bullying is typically a form of repeated, persistent, and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance. Lakehead District School Board Policy and Procedures 8071, Bullying Prevention and Intervention, is a commitment and a belief about our organization and our shared responsibility.
“Lakehead District School Board believes that every student has the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to feel safe within the school environment. The research concerning safe and effective schools supports this belief. Students who are free from bullying are able to give their education the full attention and effort needed for success. Bullying behaviour negatively impacts not only the learning environment of a school but can lead to more serious violence, as well as long-term social and emotional problems, not only for those individuals who are the victims of repeated aggression, but for those who perpetrate it and also for those who see it happening. Bullying behaviour is not acceptable on Lakehead District School Board property, at school related activities, on school buses, or in any other circumstances where engaging in bullying behaviour will have a negative impact on the school climate. At Lakehead District School Board we believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to stop bullying behaviour within the school community.“
Policy and Procedures 8071 lays the foundation and the expectation for system actions that will contribute to stopping bullying and preventing it.
A major area of emphasis in the Lakehead District School Board’s Strategic Plan is engagement. Specifically, the plan sets direction to enhance mental, physical and social well-being through a safe, inclusive and equitable environment. Actions outlined in the Operational Plan include implementing programs and intervention strategies, supporting school based programs such as Natural Helpers and Gay Straight Alliances and offering mandatory training in diversity. During the 2011-12 school year students in grades 5, 7, 10 and 12 participated in School Climate surveys. Parents and staff also participated. The purpose of the school climate surveys was to collect data about equity, inclusion and bullying. The data was used to set school improvement goals focused on creating safe, equitable learning environments.
We know that a safe, inclusive and accepting school environment is a necessary condition for student success. As a school system we are working to ensure that the Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act is being implemented. The Act requires all school boards to take preventative measures against bullying, issue tougher consequences for bullying, and support students who want to promote understanding and respect for all.
The Ministry of Education website includes information and supports for parents, students and school systems. The link below will take you directly to an information brochure for parents about stopping bullying entitled: Bullying, We Can All Help Stop It
As a school system we are committed to the success of every student. It will require a focused and ongoing effort from everyone: parents, staff, students and community to realize this commitment.
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