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November 15, 2005
For immediate release
Schools Take Action to Address Bullying
November 14 to 20 is Bullying Awareness Week in Canada. The theme, “It’s Cool to Care,” focuses on what youth can do to reduce and prevent bullying.
“Bullying is a serious problem in our schools and communities,” said Education Minister and Attorney General Mildred Dover. “This week we are asking parents and youth leaders to talk to kids about bullying. Youth should be encouraged to intervene when someone is being bullied. They should know that when they keep silent, they are giving the bully more power. Reducing bullying among youth is one of the best things we can do to address important societal issues like family violence and crime.”
A recent Canadian study suggests that bullying occurs every seven minutes in school playgrounds and every 25 minutes in class. Bullying usually involves bystanders who give the bully power by not acting. It is estimated that 85 per cent of bullying episodes occur in the context of a peer group. Most of the time, when peers intervene on behalf of the victim, bullying stops in less than ten seconds. Intervening does not necessarily mean confronting the bully, but rather, befriending the victim, ignoring the bully, talking and walking away with the victim.
It takes courage for kids to get involved when bullying is happening. Young people don’t want to be seen as selling out their peers. They are also worried that bullies may target them next. These fears keep the majority of youth silent and this, in turn, gives the bullies power.
Martha Ellis, president of the PEI Home and School Federation said parents are encouraged to talk to their children this week about bullying. “Parents should teach their children and youth that bullying is not just shoving and pushing physically, it is shoving and pushing verbally. Children should be encouraged to think about what they say and how they say it. Our words should encourage others at home, in school, on the soccer field, in the hockey rink or wherever we go,” she said.
Several Island schools have organized activities to address bullying. Last week students at Englewood School celebrated “Peace Week” with a kick-off assembly and presentation by guest speaker Jim Harris. Teachers and staff, dressed in 60's attire, played musical instruments and sang an original rap song about peace that they wrote for the students. Each day, peace songs were played with the morning announcements along with a peace quote and challenge of the day.
Several schools such as Englewood and Queen Charlotte Intermediate schools brought in the Canadian Half Pints this week. The group’s powerful and fun presentation helps youth understand why they should not tease.
This week East Wiltshire School is bringing in guest speaker Israel Okeafor, and holding a panel discussion on bullying prevention with adults and students.
Charlottetown Rural High School is doing a poster blitz. The posters encourage students not to stand by when someone is being bullied but to stand up for the person because it is the right thing to do.
For more information on bullying visit www.bullying.org.