The Canada Safety Council's focus for National School Safety Week, Oct. 17-23, is to combat cyber bullying by helping children understand the effects of their online actions.
The B.C. government supports these national efforts and is also working to keep children safe from cyber bullying.
Last June Premier Christy Clark launched ERASE Bullying (Expect Respect And a Safe Education), a 10-point strategy to end bullying that includes tools and training to combat cyber bullying. An ERASE Bullying reporting tool is being created so children can anonymously report bullying and the ERASE Bullying website is also underway to provide information and resources for parents.
A five-year, multi-level training program for 15,000 educators and community partners to help them identify and prevent bullying has begun. The initial phase of training includes how to foster safe and caring school communities and empower children to report and stop bullying wherever it happens. By the end of the 2012-13 school year, all school districts will have started this first wave of training.
Two backgrounders follow, with facts and information on how to prevent cyber bullying and an update on the ERASE Bullying strategy.
Don McRae, Minister of Education is quoted as stating; "The only way to end bullying is for us all to take a stand against it. I encourage children to be an example to their friends by taking part in anti-bullying efforts in their community. If a child sees someone being bullied, I hope he or she chooses not to join in. If a child is being bullied, I hope he or she can find the courage to report it."
"The ERASE Bullying reporting tool will make it easier for kids to anonymously report bullying at a time they feel safe. The new website will have information, resources and tips for parents, and the province wide training is bringing communities together to keep children safe from bullying and violence wherever it happens." Learn more:
* Announcement of the ERASE Bullying Strategy: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2012/06/premier-announces-erase-bullying-strategy.html
* Video of the ERASE Bullying announcement: http://youtu.be/lNJJ-pNDXQI
* National School Safety Week: https://canadasafetycouncil.org/node/1204
* Roots of Empathy B.C.: http://www.rootsofempathy.org/en/where-we-are/canada/british-columbia.htmlFacts and information on how to prevent cyber bullying:
In recognition of National School Safety Week's focus on online bullying, the following tip sheet is an example of the type of information available to parents on the ERASE Bullying website currently being developed. Cyber bullying facts:
* Cyber bullying occurs when a child is targeted through technology with the purpose of being harassed, embarrassed, threatened or hurt by another child.
* It is done on the Internet and mobile phones through text messaging, instant messaging, social media sites, chat rooms, websites and email.
* Incidents of cyber bullying can involve images intended to hurt or embarrass, cruel rumours, hacking into personal sites, and web pages created to target an individual.
* Given the online nature, a single incident can be posted, reposted and viewed by thousands of people in a few seconds.
* Cyber bullies are often able to remain anonymous, hiding behind false online identities, and online activities such as forums are less likely to be supervised by an adult. Signs a child is being cyber bullied:
* Changes to their pattern of computer or mobile phone usage.
* Mood changes during or after using the computer. May appear anxious, depressed, irritable or fearful when online.
* Tries to avoid discussions or questions about their online activities.
* May complain of feeling unwell, have trouble sleeping or get nightmares.
* Low self-esteem and putting themselves down.
* Decreased interest in usual activities, school performance and social situations.
* Threatening to hurt themselves or others.
* May appear isolated from their peer group. Signs a child could be cyber bullying another child:
* Long hours spent online and secretive about online activities.
* Appears agitated or excited when online.
* Uses multiple online accounts or has various online identities.
* Becomes upset or angry if he or she cannot use the computer.
* Aggressive with family and friends; holds a positive view of aggression and has friends who bully and are aggressive.
* Appears unconcerned for others' feelings and does not recognize the impact of his or her behaviour.
If you spot any of the warning signs and believe you know a child who is being bullied or is a bully, encourage him or her to unplug and to foster their offline friendships. Teaching all children to be part of the solution is the key to preventing cyber bullying. How children can prevent cyber bullying:
* Refuse to participate: Don't write it; don't read it; don't share it.
* Work with other students and school officials to raise awareness and develop rules around cyber bullying.
* Create flyers or build online forums to educate and share anti bullying messages and strategies.
* Don't allow your friends to post personal photos or videos of others.
* Be an example to your friends. If you wouldn't say it in person, don't say it online.
* Speak out against cyber bullying and stand up for students who are bullied.
* If you know someone who is being bullied or is a bully, tell an adult. ERASE - BULLYING UPDATE
In June Premier Christy Clark announced ERASE Bullying, a comprehensive 10-point strategy that will make B.C. a leader in addressing and preventing bullying. Since then:
* The five-year, multi-level provincewide training for 15,000 educators and community partners to proactively identify and address threats is underway throughout the province.
* Before the end of 2012, the East and West Kootenays, the Northwest, Prince George, the Central Interior, Cariboo and the Thomson-Okanagan will start training with the rest of the province scheduled in the new year.
* By the end of the 2012-13 school year, all school districts will have received training in fostering safe and caring school communities and violence threat risk assessment.
* Safe School Coordinators are now in place in all 60 school districts.
* New online tools, including a smartphone reporting tool for kids to report bullying anonymously and a new website for parents are being developed.
* Policy work is underway on stronger codes of conduct for schools and formal protocols will be developed over the course of the year as school districts and community partners meet and receive regional training.
* A provincial advisory committee with representatives from police, school and social agency partners is being formed.
* A Ministerial Order was issued for the 2012-13 school year requiring school boards ensure one professional development day (Pro-D day) is focused on preventing bullying and cultivating safe and caring school communities.
* The ministry has developed a resource package that is being sent to districts to support Boards in organizing these Pro-D days.