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Local parent gets provincial parent organization to adopt anti-bullying resolution



Every school should follow the same policies on combating bullying says Whistler mom

Leanne Dufour has won a victory in her fight against bullying in the school system.

For months the Whistler mom, whose daughter was viciously assaulted and bullied at Whistler Secondary starting in 1998, has been working to get the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils to adopt a resolution outlining what the response to bullying in schools should be.

Last week the months of hard work she and other parents put in finally paid off when the resolution was adopted at the B.C. CPAC annual general meeting in Richmond.

"We are thrilled," said Dufour. "For the first time in two years we feel we have accomplished something."

Getting it passed was no easy matter. Although the resolution was adopted by the Whistler high school PAC, the district PAC had problems with it.

Finally the Confederation decided to suspend certain rules about adopting resolutions just so it could be passed.

"My sense was that parents from around the province felt very strongly that they wanted those initiatives to go forward," said Confederation president Reggi Balabanov.

"The feeling was so strong that other districts came forward and said, ‘we will put it forward,’ even though that meant changing the rules a bit. So they voted to suspend the rules for that particular resolution and it was an overwhelming vote in favour in the end."

The resolution contains the following:

• Be it resolved that B.C. CPAC lobby the Ministry of Education for mandatory province-wide standardized anti-violence and harassment policy in all school districts and further B.C. CPAC will work with the B.C. School Trustees Association and the Ministry of Education to develop such policies.

• Policies could include but are not limited to:

A requirement for documentation, communication, and recording of all violence and harassment from kindergarten to Grade 12 in the schools.

• A bully relocation and counselling plan.

• A victim support plan and a safety drill plan to respond to weapons threats.

• A comprehensive communication plan between schools, police, and probation officers monitoring students involved in serious, violent or criminal incidents.

• Every school should be staffed with a full-time professional, trained to deal with bullying, whose duties would include monitoring school grounds and hallways at lunch and recess.

• An accredited citizenship course should be offered for all grades covering citizenship, morals ethics and respect.

"I am hoping that this will create guidelines so all schools will be on the same program," said Dufour.

"So every student who walks into a school will know what to expect with regard to bullying, and every teacher will know what to expect, and there will be guidelines in every school that you will follow when there is a report of bullying.

"Bullies will know that if they don’t adhere to the rules they will be re-located or get counselling so there will be definite guidelines and consequences.

"It is still happening and until they get on the same program and they show consequences to these bullies nothing is going to change."

Bullying continues to grab headlines in B.C. and across the country.

In March a Fraser Valley teen was convicted in court for bullying a schoolmate to death.

Last month a 12-year-old boy was charged by North Vancouver police with assaulting a girl in his class.

Other cases across the country include a teen jailed in Edmonton for seven years for a vicious schoolyard beating in 2000, which killed another teen.

Balabanov believes parents and others are at a turning point on this issue.

"I can tell you that safety of kids and bullying is right up there in our concerns," she said.

"It has come to a turning point and people are saying this is not acceptable. Many of the people that are saying that are parents themselves who experienced it in their childhood and they don’t want it for their kids.

"They feel there is something that can be done about this and one of the key things is consistency."

Balabanov said parents are also uncomfortable with a court-solution to bullying and most feel that inappropriate behaviour needs to be dealt with long before the child ends up in the court system.

"There are reasons those children are having those behaviours and that should be addressed as soon as it surfaces whether it is Grade 2 or Grade 10," said Balabanov.

"Parents should know that kids are safe at school and not have to worry about it."

The Confederation will meet with Education Ministry officials in the next six weeks to discuss the resolution and many of the other 150 motions, which were passed at the annual general meeting.

From there the organization will work to publicize their policy objectives on bullying as the fight for zero-tolerance continues.

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