The Ministry of Education has designated the week of November 17 - 23 as Bullying Awareness Week.
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.
How do we work together to stop bullying? Stopping bullying demands a commitment to address this behaviour every day. Stopping bullying behaviour requires that a focused solution to address the actions of the bully is undertaken and that the solution includes ways to recognize and repair the hurt that the victim has suffered. The solution must inform what those involved can do to prevent the same actions from taking place again.
However, research also indicates that too often the victim is reluctant to disclose acts of bullying because of fear of retribution, fear of embarrassment over the actions that have happened, or because they are unaware of how and to whom to report the incident or incidents.
We know that a safe, inclusive and accepting school environment is a necessary condition for student success. School climate surveys completed in 2012-2013 indicate that 85% of students feel safe at school. We want to know about and help the other 15% of students who do not feel safe at school. Data collected has informed the bullying prevention and intervention plan at each school. Schools have set targets and strategies for education and improvement.
We cannot stop bullying alone! On November 18th, 2013, Lakehead Public Schools, in cooperation with Crimestoppers Thunder Bay, launched an anti-bullying app. The app, developed by a Sir Winston Churchill CVI International Baccalaureate Program student Phil Bystrician, is available for download from the iTunes App Store and is located on the Lakehead Public Schools website. It will enable witnesses to report acts of bullying anonymously to police. Police will then work with the associated school to resolve the issue. It is one more way that students and families can help to protect victims.
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 entitled: Bullying, We Can All Help Stop It http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/bullying.pdf
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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