Victoria: On February 28, students and government leaders called for a united front against bullying, especially cyberbullying.
Premier John Horgan, Minister of Education Rob Fleming and B.C. MLAs joined about 100 students on the steps of the B.C. parliament buildings.
“Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness, whether it is in the schoolyard or on social media,” Premier Horgan said. “I’m proud of the students who have come here today to make it clear that bullying, in any form and in any space, is unacceptable.”
B.C.’s 11th-annual Pink Shirt Day event included spoken-word poetry and choir performances by Reynolds Secondary students with strong messages against cyberbullying. Students from Cedar Hill Middle school also came to show their support.
“Cyberbullying touches the lives of B.C. kids every day,” Fleming said. “We all have a role to play in making sure students feel safe in the classroom, at home and online. By supporting positive online practices, we can help keep students safe and encourage respectful behaviour towards others.”
Government has proclaimed today as Bullying Awareness Day, highlighting B.C.’s commitment to ensuring a safe and inclusive province for all. Those in attendance at today’s Pink Shirt Day event in Victoria were encouraged to speak out against negative online posts, and to spread kindness instead, using the hashtags #PinkShirtDay and #ERASEBullying.
To ensure parents have the tools they need to support their children as they navigate the digital world, government is providing $100,000 to the B.C. School Superintendents’ Association (BCSSA) to offer social media education sessions to parents in every school district this school year. BCSSA will be partnering with Safer Schools Together to offer the session, called Raising Digitally Responsible Learners. This session was successfully piloted to approximately 120 parents last year.
“Parents play an important role in the safety and upbringing of their children both with respect to on and offline behaviours,” said Carol Todd, mother and founder of the Amanda Todd Legacy Society. “Parents have a need to become better informed on how their children are using technology and, more importantly, how to support them in conversations related to social media and cyberbullying.”
Parents and students can access bullying prevention resources, and an online anonymous bullying reporting tool at www.erasebullying.ca, part of the Province’s comprehensive bullying prevention strategy, ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education). Since its launch in 2012, ERASE has received national and international recognition for its work in keeping students safer.
The Ministry of Education is also providing $35,000 to the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils to work in collaboration with the ARC Foundation (Awareness. Respect. Capacity) to develop a new set of SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) resources for parents, including a brochure and online videos. The brochure can be viewed at www.sogieducation.org and the videos will be posted there by the end of March.
“All forms of bullying and harassment have no place in B.C. schools. We need to keep our children safe from cyberbullying and intolerance in schools, in the community and at home,” said Jen Mezei, president of the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC). “The social media presentations and SOGI resources will help parents have frank, open and informed conversations with their children, and teach them how to accept others, so we are all treated with mutual dignity and respect.”
- 19% of Canadian children have experienced cyberbullying or cyberstalking: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-006-x/2016001/article/14693-eng.htm
- Research suggests vulnerable youth are at a greater risk of mental health challenges and may be more susceptible to bullying and cyberbullying behaviour.