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27 Jan, Friday
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Montreal Families

Anti-bullying kit will help educators, parents and kids

When the Quebec government introduced Bill 56, the province’s “anti-bullying and anti-violence in schools legislation,” in June 2012, it addressed a long-standing concern for students, parents and educators. Bullying has always been a problem in schools, but the magnifying effects of digital technology have made many incidents bigger, more complex and difficult to manage effectively.

While this law mandated a number of new responsibilities for schools when it came to the issues of bullying, it didn’t provide any new resources or training for schools. Many principals and teachers found themselves scrambling to make up the new policies and fill in the legal requirements. There was no guidebook or template offered, because the government wanted each school to customize it to their own communities. Nor were there “best practices” presented on how to effectively manage the problematic effects of bullying. Perhaps most significantly, there was no extra money for hiring experts, behaviour technicians, teachers or support staff that might have made the biggest difference in the hallways, schoolyards and classrooms where bullying incidents (even the online ones) often get played out.

When the bill was introduced, Agence Ometz, a non-profit community organization that offers programs for students, wanted to make sure it followed the new requirements.

“We did research into what was available for our own programs with students,” explained Carol Liverman, a clinical supervisor in Agence Ometz’ school services department.

The group hosted a clinical day on bullying for their affiliated schools and interested educators. They invited bullying expert Jasmin Roy (of the Fondation Jasmin Roy) to present and hired David-Roger Gagnon as principal writer to turn their research into an anti-bullying toolkit.

“You have a really good range of what you need to do to change the climate and culture of a school,” Liverman said. “It’s not just a checklist, it’s a process, and we can help people manage that process.”

The toolkit comprises six booklets, averaging about 40 pages each, written for specific stakeholders: the school as a whole, administrators, teachers, professionals, students and families. Both versions also include copies (in the respective languages) of an anti-bullying booklet written by education consultant and former MELS trainer Camil Sansfaçon. While Gagnon was principal writer, Liverman, along with Agence Ometz clinical director Barbara Victor and Joanne Baskin, collaborated on the research. Additional support was provided by the Fondation Jasmin Roy, the Centrale des syndicats du Quebec (CSQ) and Hydro Quebec.

The toolkit is available for $99 and the comprehensive package offers a wealth of resources. Liverman added that although many schools might have something in place to try to stamp out bullying, this resource puts a lot of emphasis on the family, and how parents can be involved.

Liverman wants parents to know this guide is available for their children’s schools, and that it includes a booklet specifically for families. Agence Ometz also offers training for schools on how to use the toolkit effectively as well as a wide variety of other services for families, children and youth.

For more information or to purchase a copy, call Carol Liverman at 514-342-0000, ext. 3846, or visit fondationjasminroy.com.

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