May 9, 2002
The following statement was issued today by Judy Foote, Minister of Education. It was also read in the House of Assembly:
Bullying in schools
The Department of Education is sponsoring a forum to deal with the problem of bullying in schools. Unfortunately this inappropriate behaviour by a minority of students impacts negatively on the whole school community in which it exists.
This government is committed to providing quality education for our students and this is demonstrated, for example, by our investment in new schools and support of professional development for teachers. However, we also have a responsibility to ensure that the school community is an environment built on a premise of respect for all, where hostility and threats are non-existent.
The conference will be held in St. Johnís on May 30. It will bring together representatives from our school boards, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachersí Association, the Federation of School Councils, other government departments and the Safe and Caring Schools Advisory Committee, which includes representation from our police forces. We are also inviting educational psychologists, guidance counselors, teachers and students. The conference will look at interventions currently in place to deal with bullying and investigate other effective and innovative ways to stop those who bully and discourage these acts of violence. We must build a shared action plan that can be implemented as soon as possible.
Schools are more than books and buildings. Schools are places where students, teachers and staff spend much of their time. Schools are places where children should learn and grow and excel. Schools should be welcoming places. Regrettably, this is not so for some children. Taunting and teasing damages the self confidence of a child, pushing and hitting hurts a child. Sticks and stones do break your bones and names do hurt you. Unfortunately, this behaviour exists in our classrooms and on the playground. We are fortunate that students in this province have not met the fate of others in this country where a child took his life rather than return to school to face more bullying from fellow students.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a celebration, with my colleague the member for Conception Bay East-Bell Island, Mr. Jim Walsh, designating Learyís Brook Junior High as a member of Peaceful Schools International. It is the only junior high school in the world to receive this designation. I commend the administration, staff and students for making this happen.
We are taking action now to stop this form of violence and encourage an environment of peace in our schools. Cultivating an atmosphere of respect and tolerance in our schools will promote a culture of peace in our society.
2002 05 09 2:10 p.m.