The only way to stop bullying is to stamp it out.
Many programs are available, but something needs to be done. Teachers, administrators must step up.
Lately, in the Ottawa area, hazing has gotten out of control. Hazing used to be limited to friendly fun in Universities, it has now been introduced into high schools. Much discussion has ensued. Yet, the bottom line is that those picked on in elementary school, are easy targets during this hazing.
When I worked with students, it was my goal to convince the bystander not to participate and to speak truth to power. Victims must be taught not to remain so, but it is a difficult issue. I did much role play, improv activities, with victims and bullies acting out the opposite role.
In Ontario’s initial anti-bullying legislation, the Safe Schools Act, vice-principals and principals were required to conduct formal investigations of bullying complaints and penalize offenders according to a gradated system. It’s also known as the “zero tolerance” act.
But suspensions do not solve the problem. And principals did not want suspensions to go on their school's records. It doesn't reflect well on their school performance scale.
In 2009, Daniela Cervini, a Toronto-based lawyer, was approached by a group of parents whose children were bullied at an elementary school in Owen Sound, Ont. For years, the parents claim they had been trying the prescribed channels -- meetings with vice-principals, principals, police, board superintendents -- with what they perceived as no results. They turned to litigation.
This year, four claims were ﬁled in Ontario Superior Court against the Bluewater District School Board involving three schools, five teachers, three principals and one vice-principal. All are for gross negligence -- the failure to protect students from bullies. Each lawsuit is for $8.5 million, well above the $1-million standard in personal injury claims. Together, at $34 million, the Bluewater suits are the biggest of their kind in Canada.
There are solutions, such as Norway's Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. In the past 30 years, Norway has reduced bullying in its primary, elementary and secondary schools by 40 per cent. Spurred by teen suicides in 1983, after bullying incidents, the Norwegian government commissioned Dan Olweus, a psychology professor at the University of Bergen, to develop a prevention program. Instituted nationwide in 2001, his program is preventative rather than punitive.
In Canada, Dawn-Marie Wesley, 14, from Mission, B.C., who in November 2000 left a suicide note after being bullied by three girls at school that read, “If I ratted they would get suspended and there would be no stopping them.” There have been other court cases, North Vancouver vs. Jubran (2005), where the B.C. Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada ruled the school board was liable because it had not done enough to stop the harassment of a student, Azmi Jubran.
No mother should have to face this: walking in to find their child dead by their own hand.
Welcome! Brought to you from S. E. Ontario, Canada!
Happy to have been a teacher.
In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have. -Lee Iacocca, automobile executive (b. 1924)
"Ignorance is not knowing. Stupidity is the active pursuit of ignorance"
This blog is based on my 25 years as a teacher in Ottawa, and a couple of years with NNDSB. I have time to reflect and put my experiences and opinions out there for others. Teaching is a collective experience, best shared. Visit my resume for more about my teaching background and credentials.