Community

Be loud, speak out against bullying

VICTORIA – Tell someone. That’s the message that Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid wants students who may face being bullied at school or online to hear as the province joins schools and workplaces across B.C. to celebrate Pink Shirt Day today, Feb. 23.
This day, which is also proclaimed Anti-Bullying Day, is celebrated to  recognize the efforts of students and adults across B.C. to build communities that foster respect, fairness, equity and compassion.
“In the past few years, we have been moved by students and teachers across  the province taking a stand against bullying,” said MacDiarmid.
“Just this month we saw a group of 300 Vancouver students gain attention from around North America with their flash mob video promoting acceptance and  compassion that has gone viral on the Internet.
“To know that Pink Shirt Day began with the actions of just two high school boys in Nova Scotia and is now celebrated by thousands in Canada  from coast to coast shows that we, as adults, can learn from our students,” said MacDiarmid.
“I encourage all of you to join me and wear pink on Feb. 23 and celebrate the diversity of our province.”

Tips for students:
• Bullying can be prevented before it starts. Understand what bullying behaviours are, such as name-calling, unwelcome teasing or taunting, and then help others understand these are unacceptable behaviours.
• Recognize you have the right to be treated with respect and feel safe in
your school and community. If this is not happening, talk to someone.
• Refuse to go along with bullying or harassment – youth who laugh or cheer only encourage the behaviour.
• Gather your friends to help speak out against bullying and harassment.
• Watch out for those being bullied, and tell a teacher or trusted adult if you see bullying happening.

Tips for parents:
• Get to know your children’s friends and be involved in their school community.
• Discuss with your child or teenager examples of bullying he or she notices on television, in video games or in the neighbourhood. Help your  child understand the consequences of bullying.
• Model appropriate behaviour by showing empathy for others, managing angry feelings and accepting differences.
• Watch your child for signs of changed behaviour, such as dropped grades, sleeplessness, anxiety, loss of appetite, angry outbursts or being sick in the morning.
• Notice if your child talks about dropping out of school for vague  reasons, skips school, is unwilling or afraid to leave the house, or wants to change their route to school.
• Be aware if your child comes home with torn clothes, unexplained bruises, new clothes or other items, or money not accounted for.

Codes of conduct
In 2007, the province passed legislation requiring boards of education to have codes of conduct in all schools that include standards for appropriate school behaviour.
All school districts have reported they have codes of conduct in place.
In addition, curriculum for students from  elementary to high school includes skills for the development of healthy  relationships.

Learn more
Resources for students are available through the Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868 or online at www.RedCross.ca/StandUp.
• Resources for parents to understand bullying behaviour are available at http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/sco/resources.htm.
This includes ‘Keeping Kids Safe’, a guide for parents in grades K-12 and Internet Safety Tips for Parents.
• Learn about cyber-safety with your children and explore online safety at www.learnnowbc.ca/lnbcresources/cybersafe/.
• For more information, visit the Ministry of Education’s Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools website: www.bced.gov.bc.ca/sco.

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