No mom wants her child to be bullied. That’s why we were interested to hear about Premier Christy Clark’s new anti-bullying strategy, ERASE. The acronym stands for Expect Respect And a Safe Education, and the 10 point strategy is intended to ensure that every child feels safe and accepted at school, no matter their gender, race, culture, religion or sexual orientation.
The plan is slated to start in the 2012/2013 school year. According to the press release the anti-bullying strategy’s 10 points include:
- A five-year training program for educators and community partners to help them identify and address threats.
- Online tools, including a Smartphone app, for kids to report bullying anonymously.
- Dedicated safe school coordinators in every district.
- Stronger school codes of conduct.
- Provincial guidelines for threat assessments.
- Online resources for parents.
- Formal protocols for school and community partners.
- A provincial advisory committee with representatives from police, school and social agencies.
- A dedicated professional development day on anti-bullying.
- Anti-bullying and threat assessment training for student teachers.
A Vancouver Mom’s Perspective
The ERASE anti-bullying strategy is intended to prevent, identify and stop harmful behaviour by children and adults alike in all 60 school districts. It’s meant to address bullying wherever it happens – at school, online or in the community. We think this sounds like a good step, but we wanted to get a Vancouver mom’s perspective, so we got in touch with Danielle Christopher. As the mom of an autistic child who will start kindergarten next year, she was particularly interested in the policy. While she feels that it’s a good first step, she feels that it doesn’t go far enough.
She says, “Where are special needs kids mentioned? What plans are there for them? Kids with special needs are being bullied in school in BC. Schools need to protect them, too.” In fact, studies show that nearly two thirds of autistic children have faced bullying. It seems clear that we need to ensure that children with different needs need to be covered under any anti-bullying strategy as well. Fortunately, a little more detailed digging showed that under ERASE school codes of conduct must include, “The prohibition of discrimination on the basis of … race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex or sexual orientation, or age.”
Whether you feel that this plan will be effective or not, I think we can all agree that we need better anti-bullying strategies to ensure that all kids feel safe at school. And while policies are great, Danielle Christopher points out that learning how to get along starts at home. For help on how you can teach your kids about bullying, check out the bullying resource from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Because to really protect our children, we all need to work together.
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.