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Coping with bullying

This letter was sent to the Sea to Sky school board and copied to The Chief for publication.

This letter was sent to the Sea to Sky school board and copied to The Chief for publication.

Members of the board,

As you have been reading on Facebook, and in local and regional media outlets, a number of parents, students and members of the public at large are very concerned about the level of school bullying at present and the lack of adequate/effective response on the part of the school district to deal with it ["Gathering focuses on school bullying," The Chief, Aug. 14].

We are asking that you as our elected board take a direct interest in this matter, instruct staff to pay closer attention to it, and ensure that the intervention techniques are providing effective outcomes.

We do not wish to imply that the school district is ignoring the problem. We simply feel that current measures are coming up short and that too many children are being victimized. Furthermore, too many perpetrators are carrying on with this insidious behaviour without adequate intervention strategies to stop them.

A number of parents have attempted to bring the seriousness of the problem to the attention of district administrative officers. While staff (in most instances) is polite and has shown sincerity, the response has been less than satisfactory. The bullying problem continues at an unacceptable level.

We heard from many parents (and some teachers and administrators) that the restorative justice program is one issue that needs review. While it has merit and is effective in some instances, we strongly believe that too much emphasis is placed on it. It is ineffective in many instances - in fact counterproductive - and should only be considered to be one of number of strategies available when bullying takes place.

In order to bring about resolution to this matter we are making a number of action recommendations:

Meaningful dialogue - we need the bullying problem to come out into the open where it belongs. It is a community problem and the school district needs to wrestle with it and demonstrate leadership by convening community forums which name the problem(s), name the various parties with an interest who must partake (along with their particular role), design and implement appropriate intervention strategies (purposely plural) and publish clear concise measures of accountability - applied with consistency.

Violence - there must be zero tolerance of violence, full stop. Meaningful consequences must follow acts of violence. This applies to everyone - including victims of bullying who reach the breaking point. That said, if the victim commits violence, the system must accept responsibility for having failed that student.

Monitoring and measuring - we're past the point of simply protesting when the problem rises. Once the problem gets under control we want ongoing procedures in place that effectively monitor and measure the extent of bullying in our school district.

School District policies - the matter needs more clarity. Please review your SD policy(ies) regarding both bullying and violence. Update where necessary and circulate it widely. We are seeing inconsistencies in its application.

In order to move this matter forward we formally request an opportunity to meet with you at an open public board meeting to initiate some dialogue on moving forward. We suggest one hour of your meeting time. Please let us know a convenient date.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.

Bianca Peters

Chair, Bully Free Howe Sound

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