The government’s new bullying prevention strategy will help to prevent bullying and tackle its causes, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy said today.
“Bullying is an underestimated and pervasive problem,” said Kennedy. “It is a proven precursor to violent behaviour and is never acceptable in Ontario’s schools or communities.”
As part of a comprehensive bullying prevention strategy, the government is investing $23 million over three years to reduce incidents and fundamentally change attitudes toward the phenomenon of bullying.
A 2003 provincial survey of Grade 7 to 12 students, conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, found that one in three students reported being bullied at school. Bullying may include verbal, physical or social forms of bullying in varying degrees.
“The province will dramatically step-up the fight against bullying by providing schools with the Action Plans, training and resources to implement effective bullying prevention programs,” said MPP Liz Sandals, Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Monte Kwinter and Safe Schools Action Team Lead.
The strategy also includes:
– An ongoing $1 million partnership with Kids Help Phone to expand the
24-hour hotline’s ability to respond and counsel anonymously to calls
and online questions from students about bullying
– A new provincial registry of effective bullying prevention programs
recommended and meeting criteria of the Safe Schools Action Team.
Some components of the programs will include awareness campaigns,
in-school anonymous reporting mechanisms and safe peer intervention
– Mandatory bullying prevention programs in every school in Ontario.
Funding of $1,500 to $2,000 per school for staff training and
resources to create an in-house safe schools team, composed of
students, teachers, principal and parents, to establish an approved
bullying prevention program that meets the individual needs of the
school according to their school culture
– A $1 million High Challenge grant, available by application for
schools with identified additional challenges
Today’s announcement responds to the recommendations of a bullying prevention report prepared by the Safe Schools Action Team released today. The team’s report was developed following province-wide consultations. Other members of the Action Team include leading safe schools experts, Dr. Debra Pepler, Stu Auty and Ray Hughes.
“This partnership with the Ontario Government will enhance our ability to provide immediate, confidential support to students and help curb the effects of bullying at school and in our communities,” said Graham Lute, VP, Marketing and Fund Development, National Office, Kids Help Phone. “The funding will also allow us to hire additional counsellors, provide increased training and improve the response times on our online counselling service.”
“The effectiveness of bullying prevention programs relies, in part, on the ability to empower students to lead the charge of changing attitudes in their schools,” said Kennedy. “Students need to be freed of the fear of bullying to create the best possible environment for student learning and achievement. The hotline and the new programs are giving students a place to
turn for help.”
Studies show that when peers intervene positively, they are effective in stopping the bullying within 10 seconds, 57 per cent of the time.