Students and staff participating in Pink Shirt Day at J.M. Olds Collegiate in Twillingate. — Submitted photo
Education Minister Clyde Jackman today joined students and staff at Sacred Heart Academy in Marystown to mark Pink Day/Stand Up To Bullying Day.
“Today, as school communities across the province take a stand against bullying and harassment, I take the opportunity to congratulate all school administrators, teachers and students who are creating and maintaining safe, respectful and inclusive learning environments,” Jackman said. “People are talking about this issue; action is being taken, and together our efforts are making a difference.”
In November, the provincial government announced it is planning to strengthen the way the education system reports, and responds to, incidents of bullying and aggressive behaviours among students. In addition to province-wide focus group consultations, a consultation webpage was established at: www.ed.gov.nl.ca/edu/consultations/index.html. Anyone who wishes to provide feedback, and has not yet done so, can access the webpage until March 8, 2013.
Opposition Leader Dwight Ball is also encouraging students across the province to join forces and stand up to bullying.
Today is Pink Shirt Day/Stand Up to Bullying Day, as part of Violence Awareness Week throughout schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Ball, the MHA for Humber Valley, spoke to students at Labrador Straits Academy in L’Anse au Loup about the impact bullying can have on their lives.
“It’s important to openly talk about bullying and harassment,” said Ball. “By having open and honest discussions, we can help prevent or reduce incidents of bullying in schools.”
Meantime, Pink Shirt Day is conciding with teacher training in Red Cross bullying prevention program.
According to a news release, as children and adults in Canada and around the world raise awareness about bullying by taking part in Pink Shirt Day, a group of 10 teachers in central Newfoundland and Labrador will be in a classroom themselves, learning to deliver the Canadian Red Cross's internationally lauded bullying prevention program, thanks to funding support from Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union.
The teachers and administrators — nine from Nova Central School District and one from Labrador – will spend two days becoming certified as facilitators for the Canadian Red Cross program. They will then return to their schools and work with student volunteers, providing guidance and support materials enabling students themselves to create their own bullying prevention campaigns tailored to the circumstances in their school.
"Students respond better to anti-bullying messages coming from their classmates rather than from teachers or other adult authority figures," says Kalina McCaul, a training officer with the Canadian Red Cross in the Atlantic region.
"That's really the success of the Red Cross program, which is called Beyond the Hurt, as the teachers we train provide only basic guidance, background information and other tools and support that allows students to adapt the materials and create, deliver and seize ownership of the bullying prevention message in their school."
The Canadian Red Cross has developed and delivered evidence-based programs and materials to address bullying, violence and abuse for nearly 30 years during which time its programs have been delivered to more than 4.4 million Canadian children, youth or adults who work with youth, and have been adapted in over 20 countries. Additional information is online at redcross.ca/RespectED.