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Feature - Opening up on bullying

New Safe School Survey shows it’s an issue at Whistler Secondary



Twenty per cent of students at Whistler Secondary are called names and teased at least once or twice a week, if not daily, according to this year’s Safe School Survey, completed this week.

And 10 per cent of students are hit, pushed or physically hurt in some other way, everyday.

Despite these findings Whistler Secondary is by no means a problem school, and the survey results mirror the experience of many other schools.

Nearly all the students feel safe in class, walking the halls, in the washrooms and around the school grounds.

But bullying is still present, with more than a quarter of students feeling it is at least an occasional problem.

"One of the areas of concern is amongst Grades 7 to 9... where there seems to be an increase in bullying and intimidation for boys in that age group," said the high school’s new principal, Ken Davies. This reflects a trend throughout the province, he added.

"We need to be aware and develop processes to be proactive, as opposed to reactive, in our education with these youth as well as everyone else."

Davies is also probing youths about their understanding of the questions in the survey to make sure students didn’t include the physical "play" many kids act out in their replies.

This is the second Safe School Survey completed at the high school. The first one was done in January, 2001.

The results are similar, said teacher and Safe School Committee co-ordinator Gail Rybar.

"It’s not very different from last year," she said. "And it’s not all roses.

"It’s not a problem that will ever be gone because it is so much a part of youths finding themselves.

"The school needs to continue working at publicizing the ways in which students can inform teachers or administrators if something is happening.

"We also need constantly to reinforce what is acceptable behaviour."

The only way to combat bullying, which can range from name-calling and harassment to violent acts, is to learn about it, educate others, accept that it is a problem, and take action to stop it.

"Only two things are needed to stop (bullying): Awareness and involvement," said University of B.C.’s associate dean of education Shelley Hymel.

"First we have to admit there is a problem, and then we’ve got to get involved. It is a whole ‘village to raise a child’ thing."

Who doesn’t know kids who have been excluded from the crowd? They are not part of the in-crowd. They are not even part of the out-crowd.

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