Local initiatives are helping students understand and resolve conflicts and changing the way students talk about bullying.
Bready Elementary School in North Battleford started a club recently called All Bready Cares, or ABC Club, where students participate in activities which teach them how to be respectful and work together.
“We want to go beyond just stopping bullying,” Principal Rhonda Simon said. “We want to look at things we can do to be kind and caring to our classmates and everyone.”
The program is based on an idea from Grade 4 student Jordin Ryan, and facilitated by Simon and guidance counsellor Jessica Labman.
Simon said there’s been a lot of interest in their sessions so far, which are open to all students in Grades 3 to 6. She said sessions so far have focused on treating others with kindness and how small actions can affect people in big ways.
Schools also discuss bullying in the regular curriculum, such as in health class Simon said, which is common throughout the school division.
This week, Nov. 13 to 19, is Bullying Awareness Week in Saskatchewan. It’s been held across Canada for more than 10 years as a way to encourage youth to stand up and speak out against bullying.
Simon said in her experience, she’s noticed the conversations around bullying changing.
“Sometimes kids make mistakes and it's a one-time thing where someone was being mean or not respecting each other and we work hard to resolve it and not just label it as bullying.” she said. “We really work with kids on how to deal with it and how to stand up for yourself and also how to resolve conflict, which happens every day even among adults. I think that's what's changing in our school is we're really looking at what is the difference between conflict and bullying.”
Rena Fauchon-Smockum, program coordinator at John Paul II Collegiate in North Battleford, agreed that it’s important to talk to students about the difference between conflict and bullying.
She said one main program to address bullying this year at John Paul II was a session from Dwayne Peace of Life Synergy for Youth. She said he delivered a school-wide three-hour presentation on bullying, substance abuse, depression and other issues students deal with. He then led individual workshops with each Grade 9 student to talk about issues one-on-one.
Fauchon-Smockum said one main takeaway from the program was to remind students that their peers may have issues in their own lives that cause them to act a certain way.
“Everybody has a story and you may not know their story and maybe you don't even need to know their story, but you need to know that everybody does,” she said. “If someone’s doing something to you or to someone else, it may be jerky, but something's happening in their life or something has happened in their life so you need to have compassion and look at them with love even though they may not be doing what you think is right.”
She said each year or semester the school has a major focus like Life Synergy for Youth, but there are constantly other programs going on to address bullying throughout the school, whether that be in the curriculum or student clubs.
Fauchon-Smockum said it’s important to emphasise to students the difference between bullying and conflict, and the different strategies to address both.
Sarah Rae is battlefordsNOW's court and crime reporter. She can be reached at [email protected] or tweet her @sarahjeanrae.
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