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Province promises to address bullying with new guidelines by the fall

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Local mom encouraged by safe school task force recommendations

A Whistler mom who has been fighting along with other parents to stamp out bullying in B.C. schools finally got some good news.

The Ministry of Education plans by this fall to develop new polices for fighting the devastating behaviour.

Its polices will be based on several recommendations handed down last week in a much anticipated government task force report – Facing our Fears, Accepting Responsibility.

"There are some really good steps to be taken outlined in the report and it is really nice to know that the task force was listening to us," said Leanne Dufour.

Dufour’s daughter was attacked and beaten in a local park in 1998 by fellow students at Whistler Secondary because of a false accusation that she had been with the boyfriend of one of the girls.

However, even when the false accusation came to light the youths continued to bully and harass her daughter, to the point where she left the school.

Two girls were convicted of assault and ordered to stay away from Dufour’s daughter.

Dufour sued the school board over its handling of the incident but was later forced to drop the lawsuit.

Her experiences drove her to join with other parents of bullied and harassed children to fight for province-wide recognition of the problem and new policies to deal with it.

She made presentations to the task force and its members several times.

Dufour is most encouraged by the task force recommendation that all school boards be required to publicly report the nature and volume of incidents of violence in district schools, together with evidence of what they did about it.

"I think requiring documentation is huge and I think that is a really big step in holding the schools accountable for what is going on in the schools," she said.

"When you read the report you can see that the attitudes of the school and the attitudes of the students is really different towards incidents of bullying and with this enforced documentation the schools will have to keep track of the incidents and what is done about them."

Another important issue dealt with in the report is parent education.

It states that parents must be educated about how to deal with the policies and procedures surrounding bullying so that resolutions can be found for all the stakeholders.

"This is crucial too," said Dufour, adding that putting the polices in place in every district will make a huge difference to the handling of the problem, from the parents involvement to the school district’s role.

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