Bullying should not happen.
That is why we are making a difference by supporting our students and staff during and after this week’s Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week.
We are listening to what our students tell us, in the interactive Director’s Forums held each year, in the student surveys we conduct, and in the everyday exchanges that occur in our classrooms, hallways, offices and extra-curricular activities.
We know bullying happens much too often. About three in every 10 students are bullied on a regular basis. This is an upsetting reality. It is also a call to action, especially when we know that when bullying occurs there are bystanders nearby about 85 per cent of the time.
This week, our schools are planning a wide range of anti-bullying events. These may involve brightly coloured T-shirts, special presentations, the sharing of ideas through the arts and much more. Visit our schools this week and you may also see new posters on display that students have created.
At a system level, we are planning Positive School Climate sessions for all schools, so that school teams can learn and work together. Teams will focus on developing strategies to strengthen positive relationships in schools which will support our anti-bullying efforts. What ties all of these efforts together is this: we want to find ways to make students more comfortable talking to us about issues like bullying. We know that students may know before adults know when bullying is happening.
This can happen through the building of awareness; it can happen by tackling the stigma that surrounds speaking out, perhaps through a 21st-century tool like our TipOff mobile app. Our TipOff app is essentially a way to receive text messages, to gather more information about the tip and to share it with the school to enable Board and school protocols to be implemented. Every sender’s phone number is scrambled to preserve their anonymity.
We need students to talk to us; we need to turn bystanders into problem-solvers. This is about building a positive school climate, and making students, staff, parents and community members aware that they can be positively powerful – because their actions count.
At its heart, it is about providing all students with a safe and welcoming school, so that every student can learn.