Ontario introducing new measures to combat bullying in schools

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TORONTO _ Ontario is introducing five new measures to combat bullying in schools, including more training for teachers and a review of how incidents are reported.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, said the measures include:

The assignment of Christina Mitas, MPP for Scarborough Centre and former teacher, to advise the Minister on education matters with a focus on bullying prevention;

A province-wide survey to better understand students’ experiences with bullying;

Training for educators in anti-bullying and de-escalation techniques; support victims and help students develop feelings of empathy.

A review of school reporting practices on bullying and cyberbullying; and

A review of the definition of bullying in ministry policies to ensure it reflects modern-day realities.

Lecce said the death of 14-year-old Devan Bracci-Selvey, who was stabbed outside his Hamilton high school, is part of what motivated the government to take action. As part of the plan, educators will learn anti-bullying and de-escalation techniques, and students will complete a survey about their experiences with bullying.

“We are working to change the culture to one where everyone sees the inherent dignity and the value of a person, irrespective of their faith, heritage or orientation or race or their income, to build a more accepting and inclusive province,” Lecce said.

MPP Mitas will engage with students, parents, educators and experts to provide short- and long-term strategies to combat bullying and ensure students have the right tools and supports. Mitas said: “We want kids impacted by bullying to reach out and for them to know they are not alone. We all have an obligation to make sure that our schools are safe and inclusive places that foster learning while keeping the nurturing of the whole child in mind.”

“Kids Help Phone hears from young people in Ontario every day that bullying, both in person and online, continues to pose a significant challenge,” said Alisa Simon, Senior Vice President, Service Innovation and Chief Youth Officer, Kids Help Phone.

“We are the only 24/7 service to support young people develop healthy relationships, feel less alone and gain skills for navigating the impacts of bullying.  We want to ensure young people know that support is just a call, chat or text away.”

  • The government has updated the Health and Physical Education curriculum for grades 1 to 8 to now include mandatory learning about online safety in all grades. In addition, learning about cyberbullying, cyber security and privacy has increased. Implementation of the updated curriculum began in September 2019.
  • The government has invested $3.18 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year towards various programs, partnerships and services that help to promote a positive school climate, support healthy relationships, build empathy and address bullying and cyberbullying.
  • Ontario announced an investment of nearly $40 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year to advance student mental health in partnership with education groups. It also committed to permanently fund approximately 180 frontline mental health workers in secondary schools.

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