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Myrtle Philip PAC tackles bullying

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Parents of Myrtle Philip students are being invited to learn more about bullying at the next Parent Advisory Council meeting.

Principal Ron Albertin admits that no school has zero bullying but it’s his aim and that of all the teachers and administrators to make sure Myrtle Philip has a zero tolerance for the behaviour.

That’s why Albertin is making his way through all the grades teaching kids how to cope with bullying and to learn what sort of behaviour is acceptable and what is not.

During the Dec. 9 PAC meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the school, Albertin will outline the program the school uses to teach about bullying and offer some suggestions for parents about how to help their kids deal with the issue. (Childcare is available.)

"It fits in with our whole overall approach to social responsibility in our school," said Albertin.

"It starts really with us all being on the same page and using the same language."

Last year the school went through an extensive exercise to develop its own set of core values, which are now posted around the school.

These help remind the students what behaviour is acceptable and what is not.

"Most of the time when I deal with the students I ask them, ‘Well do you think what you did fits with our core values?’" said Albertin.

"I ask them, ‘What are our core values?’ And they will say no (the behaviour) wasn’t very respectful, no it wasn’t caring, so you use that type of approach to help them learn."

The district is also adopting a discipline system called Effective Behaviour Support where the emphasis isn’t on punishing students who misbehave, but on rewarding students who are caught being good.

"Our program fits right in with that," said Albertin of EBS which is at the heart of the B.C. Ministry of Education’s approach to bullying.

Students who do misbehave still face consequences under EBS but the focus is on good behaviour.

"The whole concept there is that you have to set your direction and all be on board," said Albertin.

It is crucial that parents, teachers and students understand the strategy, that’s why Albertin is encouraging all parents to come to the PAC meeting to learn more.

After all most schools only have students for five hours a day. The other 19 hours the kids are at home or in the community.

So far Albertin has introduced the Focus on Bullying strategy to Kindergarten and Grade 1 but all grades will be taught the program more than once as the year continues.

"At this level they understood bullying to be people not being nice to each other," said Albertin.

"And we talk about it not just being physical, it also could be verbal, and we talk about trying to make a distinction between someone just not behaving correctly and somebody doing something violent and somebody being a bully.

"The real difference is that a bully does something to someone over and over again. It is not just a one shot deal."

"Then we go through what should they do or what can they do."

If you want to learn more about what you can do as a parent go to the PAC meeting and remember:

• Listen to your kids. Watch for warning signs but also provide the emotional support they are looking for.

• Always intervene. If you spot a problem, deal with it openly and make sure the school knows what’s going on.

• Show them there are better ways. Parents need to model non-violent ways of solving issues and problems.

• Monitor the media. Limit the amount of violence they get through TV, movies and video games – and talk with them about what they do see.

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