Tag Archives: bullying

Kids “building benches” against bullying.

I had read something on using a “Buddy Bench” as a means to help kids who are being bullied, and it seemed like a smart idea to me – any time you have a kid-led initiative like this, it’s at least something you need to explore, because it likely speaks very well to the actual need.

Here’s a short video of a young student describing her success with these in a TedX talk:

You can read about other student led initiatives using “buddy benches” with the following links:

http://www.theridgefieldpress.com/30779/buddy-benches-battle-bullying/

http://www.kptv.com/story/25643580/salem-school-using-buddy-bench-to-fight-bullying

Kids leading kids against bullying is a winning situation.

Truly,

Steve

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My Facebook reply to a discussion on bullying.

A couple of days ago, I posted a link to a Quebec Gov website consultation on bullying.  In response to a comment suggesting that our schools had the power and tools they need and that this was perhaps simply a distraction. I expanded greatly on why I think this is worth responding to and I spoke to some of the problems we face in dealing with the issue.

Here is my reply:

See, there’s more to it than just “the power and the tools”. Frankly, I am not at all sure that they have the tools either. Sure, we all know that we need to address bullying when we see it. And even the definition of bullying is fairly clear. But the  “always on” piece of it that we have today is not something a school is equipped to handle.

For that student who arrives at home to find 50 messages posted on whatever website, driving the point home that they are in fact worthless.  For that student who’s had a compromising picture taken and now finds it spread to friends and foes and everybody else. Neither of these things have occurred while in school. But the school, with funds cut year after year, the school is supposed to have the resources to be able to handle what is in fact a social problem that extends well beyond its walls. We demand more from our schools. And we give them less.

Move to the governance side of things. Two major problems in reporting right now.  An act of bullying that results in “a complaint” that is reported to the Principal of a given school becomes an individual issue that is to be reported to the Director General of the school board, along with a summary report on the incident and the follow-up measures taken.

So – what is a complaint?  When does something become a complaint?  How is a complaint defined from one school to another?  How is a complaint defined from one school board to another?

As parents, you and I will say that a complaint is the natural result of a bullying incident being recognized and dealt with within the school.  How many of these incidents do you think happen in a school in a given week?  StopaBully.ca reports that 64 percent of kids have been bullied at school.  13 percent report being bullied once or more times in a given week.

So – we have 13,500 students in our school board.  Let’s go with just the kids being bullied weekly.  That’s 1755 complaints that must be summarized, reported along with follow-up measures. And received by the Director General.  EVERY WEEK.  That’s only 43 incidents per hour based on a 40 hour week. Heck – she’s got more almost 90 seconds to deal with each one, if this is the absolute only thing she deals with bar anything else. Tell me – what in the world is that Director General supposed to do with that?

Now – let’s say school “A” reports that 13% of incidents.  School “B” reports 7%.  School “C” reports 20% and school “D” reports 3%.  Well obviously, school “D” is best.  Or maybe it’s definition is a little more narrow than school “C”’s definition.

Bring it a step further along.  Look at school boards.  How are they reporting?  What do we, as a board, do when the other school board in our territory reports 1% bullying.  We report 13%.  Holy cow! Put our school board in trusteeship, for God’s sake!  Something is horribly wrong!  Or there are no norms, no clear rules, no clear definitions and no clear directions to move in.

Bullying is a complicated issue. It’s a societal issue.  It exists in our schools and well beyond our schools.  It is insidious, often goes unrecognized and it deeply damages children – often for their entire lives.

Personally, I am glad that we at least recognize it and we’re trying to do something about it within the Education Act.  It’s a step in the right direction.  But do I think we have it covered?  Not by a long shot. And do I think the Education Act is the only place this needs to be addressed?  Not by a long shot. Are there enough resources being applied to the problem?  Not by a long shot.

So yes – the Quebec Government is keeping the issue alive. Talking about it. Asking people to think about it, to discuss it, and they are gathering information that will hopefully lead to greater understanding and better ways to recognize, deal with and report on incidents of bullying.

I don’t think that this is a distraction at all.  I think it’s something we need to pay attention to. To be involved in.  To understand, to talk about and to maintain as a major priority in our society as a whole.

I am quick to point out when Government is wrong. In this case, I’m going to point to this and say that it is a step in the right direction. And every step counts.

Truly,

Steve

http://www.stopabully.ca/bullying-resources/bullying-statistics

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Dignity for All: Protecting Our Students from Bullying [VIDEO]

Peter DeWitt, author of Dignity for All: Safeguarding LGBT Students, is a nationally renowned advocate for student rights. As an elementary school principal, Peter is passionate about empowering teachers and administrators to protect vulnerable students, particularly the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. Through a culture of acceptance and a firm stance against bullying, schools can make all students feel safe so they can maximize their full potential.

Please see the full blog post here.

Teachers are the power in this, because they can do this in their classrooms, but they’re not going to do it without administrator approval…

Truly,

Steve

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It’s National Bullying Awareness Week!

What are *you* doing about it?

“Bullying is no longer considered a normal part of growing up but as a dangerous testing ground for some of the most pernicious forms of relational abuse, often with few consequences for the offender but many for the victim.”

See Bullying.org for more.

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If you don’t think we have a bullying problem, listen to the kids.

CBC’s Mark Kelley set up a video booth in a Qubec school this past spring.

More than 150 students streamed into the booth to pour out their personal anecdotes about bullying.

They revealed an array of raw stories from all perspectives — the bully, the bullied and the bystanders — as well as how they try to “bullyproof” themselves.

This remains the sad reality.  This is what our kids have to live with when we send them to school.  This is what they have to live with in so many of their activities beyond school.

We’re just not doing a good enough job to get rid of bullying.  Yes, it has always existed and to a degree, it will always be there.  But it has evolved into something that follows kids into their “safe places”.  And somehow people say, “You can’t get rid of bullying, so…”  Well, maybe we can’t get rid of it.  But shouldn’t we stomp on it at every possible opportunity?

Click here to see the kid’s videos.

Truly,

Steve

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We don’t need more rules. We need action.

I am sorry, but reading yet another outrageous story about what is happening to our kids in our schools (this, in New Brunswick), well, it just makes me *too* mad – yet again.

In one incident, the girl called her mother in tears from the school. The mother left work and rushed to the school. She found her daughter huddled under a payphone. Students had ripped her shirt off and smashed her prized flute.

Honestly – this is what happens? This is ok? This is what we are prepared to accept in our schools?

There were broken shards of glass and razor blades. And it was her suicide box. It was a suicide box. It was a box that she was going to use when she couldn’t take it anymore. She wrote me an ‘I’m sorry letter,’ ‘I love you mommy you’ve been the best,’ and she said, ‘I can’t do it anymore. I can’t go to school; you’re making me go to school and I can’t be with these people anymore.’ And to know that the baby that you held in your arms was contemplating leaving the earth.

This is what it comes down to.

The Quebec government announced yesterday yet more measures to combat bullying. No monies, but at least more focus.

The issue for me though is that I don’t think we need any more “measures”. We don’t even need more money in the schools. We don’t need any more rules, policies or codes of conduct either.

What we DO need is to respect the rules that we already have!  Read the behavior code of your school.  Read your codes of conduct.  If we actually adhered to these rules that we already have, would we be addressing the issue?  Of course we would. It needs to be taken seriously.

It’s been over 4 years now that I have been a Commissioner in our school board.  The education act stipulates:

242. A school board may, at the request of the principal and for just and sufficient cause, and after giving the student and his parents an opportunity to be heard, enrol him in another school or expel him from its schools; in the latter case, it shall inform the director of youth protection.

I have seen no such case brought to council. None. Not one. Four years and 20,000 kids. Not a single case.

Why?

I have kids in our schools. I speak with kids in our schools. I speak to kids on our hockey teams. The things I hear about? There is cause, there has been cause and unfortunately, there will be cause again tomorrow.

Note that the education act directs the school board to inform youth protection. Because school boards are *designed* to only take it so far. At a certain point, the intent is to take the perpetrator OUT of the school board and put him into a system that may better serve the public good.

All too often I hear that we are “obliged to educate these children”. But we are also obliged to keep the rest of them safe. It’s their lives at stake here.

I am sick and tired of putting the priorities of “educating the bully” over the safety of the other children. It is simply wrong to prioritize the education of a serial bully over the actual LIVES of his victims. Sorry – pass the bully on to the next social service to fix. We can’t fix them all, and by trying, we are letting countless kids be victims, and as we have seen, leaving them feel so helpless that they are wanting to kill themselves, and actually following through with it too.

SCHOOLS – ENFORCE THE RULES.  We don’t need new rules and regulations. WE NEED ACTION.

Send a serial offender to council for expulsion, and given sufficient evidence, you will have my vote. And we can put an offender on a course that may actually help him, but one that will certainly help the victim(s).

Truly,

Steve

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Parents seek compensation in bullying case

Now we’re talking.

To me, this is where we will start to see real change.  I have mentioned before, that of the two major incidents that our family has had to deal with at our high school, one with each kid, *both* resulted in an arrest of the perpetrator, a trial, a guilty sentence and a penalty imposed.

And in both cases, the perpetrator changed their attitude. Changed the way they behaved.

Consequences matter. Consequences make a kid change, and they make a bully’s family understand the severity of the situation. Nothing like a lawsuit to bring it home for ya.

In what could be a precedent-setting case, the parents of a 14-year-old girl have filed a civil suit over alleged classroom bullying. They are seeking $215,000 in damages from another teenager.

The full article can be found here.

Truly,

Steve

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