HALIFAX - The province's action plan to address bullying and cyberbullying is providing students and families with opportunities to get involved and giving them more places to turn when they experience this behaviour.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Ramona Jennex received an update on Speak Up! An Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying Behaviour.
"Bullying and cyberbullying are complex problems that many young people are facing, and there is still much work to be done to bring about real change," said Jennex in a news release. "The action plan has moved ahead with great co-operation from students, parents, educators and others. With the Speak Up! Conference at the end of the week, I hope to see even more momentum for change."
The Speak Up! action plan was launched in February. It is based on the recommendations of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying, and has 42 actions underway that give young people a voice and increase partnerships. The first annual progress report will be released this winter.
"One of the important recommendations of the task force is the need to educate diverse audiences about the scope of the problem of bullying and cyberbullying, and the value of addressing the gap between both young and old on matters of technology and social media," said Wayne MacKay, professor, Schulich School of Law and chair of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying.
"The need to educate parents is further emphasised by the legal obligations placed on parents to reasonably supervise the online activities of their children and the consequences of not doing so under the new Cyber Safety Act."
Highlights of the province's progress to date are:
-- The province's first anti-bullying leadership conference, Speak Up!, this Friday and Saturday at Mount Saint Vincent University, bringing hundreds of Nova Scotian youth, families, educators, community organizations and experts together to share their ideas, experiences and knowledge about bullying in 42 workshops.
-- "Go To" training by Stan Kutcher, Sun Life Chair, Adolescent Mental Health, for SchoolsPlus mental health clinicians, guidance counsellors, and teachers, to support improved mental health literacy and access to services.
-- Creating the CyberSCAN unit for young people parents, teachers, principals, and other members of the public, to call to investigate complaints of cyberbullying. The unit will begin in September.
-- Establishing an interdepartmental working committee including the departments of Education and Early Childhood Development, Justice, Community Services, Health and Wellness, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the Council for the Status of Women, the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman.
-- Establishing the Restorative Approach Network of 267 educators, SchoolsPlus staff and restorative justice agency staff from across the province to implement a restorative approach program in 89 pilot schools beginning in September.
-- Strengthening the partnership with the Atlantic Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women to increase regional collaboration and information-sharing about bullying and cyberbullying and linking the Cybersafe Girl Initiative to the Speak Up! action plan.
-- Establishing a five-year plan to expand SchoolsPlus from 12 hub sites serving 95 schools to 28 hub sites serving every school in the province.
-- Reactivating the Nova Scotia Youth Advisory Council, who have been active on the steering committee for the Speak Up! Conference, and have been actively engaged with government on issues for young people.
-- Distributing resources to Primary-to-9 schools that address healthy relationships, how to be safe and respectful in online environments, personal safety, sexual health, mental health and emotional health.
-- Identifying evidence-based social and emotional learning programs for schools by a team lead by John LeBlanc, associate professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Community Health and Epidemology, Dalhousie University.
The Speak Up! Action Plan To Address Bullying and Cyberbullying is available at http://antibullying.novascotia.ca.
Schulich School, Nova Scotia Task Forceon Bullying, Mount Saint Vincent University CyberSCAN Community Services Health and Wellness Council for the Status of Women HumanRights Commission Nova Scotia Youth Advisory Council
Nova Scotia, Nova Scotian
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