Baillie introduces anti-bullying legislation

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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Cumberland South MLA and Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie introduced three pieces of anti-bullying legislation in the House on April 17. Joining him outside Province House were (from left) Travis Price, Chad, Sharon and Tom Brown.

HALIFAX - If Jamie Baillie has his way, bullies in Nova Scotia will have to pay for their actions. The Cumberland South MLA and Progressive Conservative leader presented three pieces of legislation in the House of Assembly on April 17 aimed to protect children from bullies both in school and online. Baillie's proposed legislation includes The Safer Schools Act, which would see province-wide standards set for bullying prevention and disciplinary measures; the Cyber bullying Intervention Act, which includes measures such as confiscation of electronic devices from offenders; and the Stand Up Against Bullying Day Act, which would see the second Thursday of September established as the annual Stand Up Against Bullying Day. "To protect kids from bullying today requires the involvement of our schools, the community and parents," said Baillie. Among those on hand at the legislature were Parrsboro's Tom and Sharon Brown, who lost their 17-year-old daughter Courtney to suicide in March of last year. Baillie said the legislation he introduced this week was inspired by his meeting with the Browns a year ago. "The worst imaginable thing that can happen to a parent happened to them," said Baillie. "They lost their daughter to a suicide driven by bullying, both schoolyard bullying and cyber bullying, and their frustration (was) that officials - teachers, principals, police, the community - did not have the tools that they need to protect our kids." He set party researchers to work and they looked at legislation and best practices in other provinces and several U.S. states, as well as the recommendations from the province's anti-bullying task force report released last month. The result was the three bills introduced this week. "I think it's a step in the right direction, and it's a long time coming," said Mr. Brown. "We'll see what comes of it." He could not say if measures like those proposed by Baillie could have prevented his daughter's death, but that it is important that outside resources be available to come into a school and nip bullying in the bud as soon as it starts to take place. "It has a lot to do with parents," he said. "It's at the bus stop, it's on the bus, it's at school, it's after school, and schools are playing more of a role in this. Because when teachers investigate other teachers, it may not come out the way you want." The success of the PC bills will depend on whether they receive support from the NDP government. If not, Baillie said he is committed to making them a part of his party's platform for the next provincial election, expected next year. "I'm hopeful because there is such an urgent need that the NDP will see the wisdom of what we're doing and pass the bill. That's my number one hope," he said. "If they don't, we are on record, and the people of Cumberland South and Nova Scotia know I will pass these bills as premier after the next election." Meanwhile, the Browns continue their own efforts to combat bullying and to help victims of bullying. They have been raising funds for an upcoming walk in Truro for Kids' Help Phone, and have so far raised more than $4,000 in pledges for the cause. They have rented a bus to take their team of more than 30 people from Parrsboro to Truro for the May 6 event, and have friends and family coming from Ontario to participate. "To us, this is a big deal... it means something," he said. "We're going to get more involved, and who knows, maybe we'll have a walk here (in Parrsboro) next year."

Organizations: Browns, Safer Schools, NDP

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Parrsboro, HALIFAX U.S. Truro Cumberland South Ontario

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  • Corey Hansen
    April 19, 2012 - 08:19

    I agree with every body, who has submitted the above comments. Jamie, I want to say "Thank you" for finally brinning an anti Bullying law in to effect. I remember being Bullied in School, it wasn't fun. And later when I was working at the Mcdonald's in Truro, I was pushed around by one of my co-workers who much bigger in Body Weight and height than I was. So I know what it's like to be Bullied, I understand why this fine young lady who took her own life last year.I hope this posted message will help those who are being Bullied now, whether it's at Shool or at work. Hardcore corey.

  • anon
    April 18, 2012 - 14:26

    tk u Jamie Baillie :)

  • DHB
    April 18, 2012 - 12:30

    It is about time something is going to be done. As a parent of a child in grade 2, he has seen his share of bullying and witnessed his friends being bullied. He is currently being held in school for two days without the possibility of going outside for recesses because he stood up for his best friend whom was being bullied. I, as a parent, could not be more prouder of this child for having the courage to stand up for not only himself, but his best friend!

  • Anna
    April 18, 2012 - 10:24

    This is wonderful, but what the adult bullies of society? I hope that we see some legislation aimed at bullies in the workplace in the not-so-distant future!