Province releases anti-bullying plan
The provincial government is hoping its new anti-bullying action plan helps Saskatchewan communities better prevent and respond to bullying.
Education Minister Don Morgan alongside Legislative Secretary Jennifer Campeau released the province’s plan to address bullying and cyberbullying Thursday afternoon at a Regina school.
“No child should ever have to experience bullying,” Morgan said. “Unfortunately, that is the reality for a number of students across the country and right here in our own province.”
The action plan recommends establishing a provincial body to develop consistent anti-bullying policies throughout Saskatchewan’s education sector, and advocates for anti-bullying curricula in the province’s schools.
It also calls for the Ministry of Education to fund basic risk assessment training and to work with the justice ministry to educate students on human rights.
“When a child or youth understands and can communicate to others their ‘rights and responsibilities,’ their relationships will be based on respect for self and for others,” the report reads.
The province’s plan targets cyberbullying with its recommendation that a stand-alone website be established for students, families and educators to access anti-bullying resources. It also calls for the creation of an anonymous online tool to report bullying. The plan states the tool would work in much the same way as Kids Help Phone, except through online mediums.
“Research suggests that 72 per cent of students would report cyberbullying if it could be done anonymously,” reads the action plan.
The province’s anti-bullying plan comes two months after North Battleford teenager Todd Loik committed suicide just days before his 16th birthday. His mother, Kim Loik, told media she believes bullying drove her son to kill himself.
“Bullying has no colour, no race, nothing. It just needs to stop,” she said shortly after Todd’s death.
Premier Brad Wall first assigned Campeau, a Saskatoon Fairview MLA, to the anti-bullying initiative in February. Campeau drafted the action plan after consulting with numerous groups and reviewing policies in other Canadian jurisdictions.
“A common theme we heard throughout the consultation process is that it takes a community to raise a child and support our youth,” Campeau said. “We all have a role to play, and this is evident within the recommendations put forth.”
As part of the action plan, the provincial government will also watch as the federal government works to introduce cyberbullying legislation. The province will then assess if it should move forward with its own legislative action following federal moves.
The federal government promised in October a new law prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
The promise followed the high-profile death of 17-year-old Nova Scotia high school student Rehtaeh Parsons.
Parsons committed suicide in April after a digital photograph of her allegedly being sexually assaulted was passed around her school.