Executive Council
November 19, 2007

Stand Up Against Violence during Bullying Awareness Week 2007

The issue of bullying is being given a national spotlight this week as individuals, schools, municipalities and community organizations are encouraged to recognize Bullying Awareness Week. This year�s theme is Stand Up, encouraging all groups to work together to take action to eliminate bullying in schools, workplaces, and communities.

"Bullying is an unfortunate reality," said the Honourable Joan Burke, Lead Minister of the Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI) and Minister of Education. "As a government, we are investing additional funding to support work within government and at the community level to raise awareness and combat bullying, and indeed, all forms of violence. In our schools, every opportunity must be seized to ensure a safe, caring and respectful environment. It is also critical that any incidents of bullying or violence are taken seriously and addressed appropriately. This is not an issue that can be ignored."

Bullying Awareness Week was first observed in Canada in November of 2003 because of the efforts of educator Bill Belsey to recognize the devastating consequences of bullying and affirm that this destructive behaviour must be stopped.

The Williams Government is committed to taking action against violence. In Budget 2007, the VPI received a $3 million funding increase to help reduce all forms of violence against children, youth, women, Aboriginal women and children, older adults, person with disabilities, and persons of differing sexual orientation. The initiative is a six-year, multi-departmental, community partnership.

Key initiatives under the umbrella of the VPI include the development of a Safe and Caring School Policy to guide school communities in their efforts to ensure safe, respectful learning environments. The policy was created with input from teachers, parents, school boards and community organizations and includes a Code of Conduct which applies to all members of the school community.

In addition, earlier this year Minister Burke was joined by over 400 high school students and representatives from community and policing organizations to launch the OutrageNL campaign for the prevention of youth violence. Similar to the theme for this year�s Bullying Awareness Week, the aim of the provincial campaign is to promote the importance of reaching out to a victim and taking action against violence. The campaign consists of television and radio advertisements, posters, and a website (outragenl.ca).

"It is extremely encouraging when we see parents and community leaders take an active role and seek solutions to end bullying, as we saw in recent weeks with the Majority Rules rallies," said Minister Burke. "As a community we have to take ownership of the problem and work together to combat bullying and all forms of violence. I especially encourage our school communities to organize special events during Bullying Awareness Week and indeed, at any time of the year to help end violence."

To learn more about the Violence Prevention Initiative and the Safe and Caring School Policy visit www.gov.nl.ca/vpi, www.outragenl.ca or www.gov.nl.ca/edu.

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Media contact:
Jacquelyn Howard
Director of Communications
Department of Education
709-729-0048, 689-2624

2007 11 19                                                 10:25 a.m.

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