Sunday, September 15, 2013

Safe Schools legislation that involve Gay Straight Alliances

Manitoba is the latest province to come up with a piece of safe schools legislation that will do nothing more than conquer and divide and provide self-interest groups the opportunity to lobby against each other.
By allowing one group to own the issue of bullying, other children are being ignored, discriminated against and re-bullied.  Ontario's recent legislation is a bad piece of legislation, and one that shouldn’t be mimicked by other provinces.  Bureaucrats that believe Gay Straight Alliances are the answer to bullying are only looking for the votes of larger self-interest groups as opposed to dealing with the problem as a whole.  Are we also going to have clubs for religious beliefs, ethnicity, race, disability, academic performance, socio-economic status, family constitution, body image, etc.? This is a misguided attempt to offer acceptance and inclusion through segregation?  This kind of legislation does nothing more than force our children to become social activists and challenge the rights of parents as first educators to determine and establish family beliefs and values?

During the public debate on Bill 13 in Ontario, 80% of presenters at the social committee hearings were in opposition to Bill 13 as a solution to bullying.  By ignoring the majority of voices, the basic right of people to not only voice opposition, but to be HEARD was ignored. This is a very perilous precedent and continues to feed the divide in society as opposed to acceptance and equal rights for all.

Dr. Mark Lerner is a Clinical, School and Forensic Psychologist, and chairman of The Institute for Traumatic Stress and states the following:  “A thorough review of psychoeducational data, disciplinary records and police reports should be undertaken. Consideration may also be given to psychologically evaluating involved parties, as well as consulting with educators, parents, pediatricians and psychological and/or psychiatric treatment providers.

School administrators and the legal community should be empowered with data. This information will help in determining if an individual has been subjected to bullying, what was done (if anything) to address the alleged behavior(s), what are the consequences, and what can ultimately prevent such actions in the future.

In the meantime, we need to teach our children that we are all individuals, we hold different beliefs, that sometimes we do not agree with each other, and sometimes we don’t even  like each other, but it is not okay to victimize or bully someone on this basis, nor should you expect to be victimized and bullied. We need to teach our children caring, compassion and community.  Perhaps only then will we reach a decade where self-interest groups will not have to lobby against each other, throwing out statistics to indicate why they are more important than the next; perhaps we will reach a decade where organizations won't feel it necessary to target, thereby re-victimizing others who do not fall within their target criteria. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The start of school is just around the corner

With the commencement of school just around the corner, I have been receiving e-mails from anxious parents whose children finished their last school year with aggressive situations left unresolved.  Many of these parents tell me that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  There are solutions available, but only if a parent wants to be on the same page as everyone else.  The attached link asks for your input.  Have your say in the comment section or contact me directly with your comments.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Should parents be concerned?

Last week our Minister of Education signed off on curriculum documents without even having a glance at them.  You can read what transpired here:  You can be sure there is an agenda of some kind.  As council woman Maddie DiMuccio recently stated "This is indeed a big deal. It's getting out of hand. The more the system forgoes traditional teaching methods in favour of highly controversial "progressive" education, the more our kids are falling through the cracks. There's plenty of evidence to prove this. We should leave the "progressive" education to parents."

The Ministry of Education boasts about parental engagement and then puts up the stop signs at every level, whether it be curriculum or student safety. An education system funded by our tax dollars doing nothing more but trying to muzzle the parent voice. The Liberals are about moving forward with whatever agenda they wish while ignoring the majority of voices, the basic right of people to not only voice opposition, but be to be HEARD. This is evidenced by Bill 13 - the Accepting Schools Act.  A piece of legislation that was opposed by 80% of those who presented at committee hearings, yet a piece of legislation that found its way through to becoming law.  A very perilous course of action.

The controversial sex-ed curriculum shelved in 2009 was put on the back burner as a result of public outcry.  "When Sun News reporter Faith Goldy asked Sandals directly if the Liberal government is looking to revive the sex-ed curriculum in its original format as it was in 2009, Sandals responded: “That’s the commitment that both [former] Premier McGuinty and Premier Wynne have made.” 

It's time for parents to involve themselves full out and head on where it concerns what the curriculum entails.  Parents should be concerned.  It is extremely likely that our rights to teach our own children about the birds and the bees when WE consider them to be ready, socially and emotionally, to learn about that aspect of life will be outweighed by a political agenda.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Teachers feel unsafe

“More than a quarter of teachers and public school board staffers say they’ve been threatened with violence in the last year.” This is the result of a voluntary survey taken by 6,000 Thames Valley District School Board employees last December. You can read the article in it’s entirety by cutting and pasting into your browser: "" There are a number of things that I find disconcerting with this piece of information. "Bill 168...forces employers to assess the threat of violence and harassment in their workplace..." I really need to question whether or not there is a similar piece of legislation that would put the same kind of emphasis on the threat of violence and harassment within the school environment that countless children are enduring on a daily basis. Adults have been unable to effectively resolve bullying issues in the workplace or home; however, as adults they have a defined legal recourse, with consequences for the offenders. Children have no such recourse. They have no union representation. They have limited rights under the law – which are vague and rarely enforced. The highlights of this survey really alarm me in that if adults feel this way, we can only imagine how some of our students are feeling. We ask our children to stand up to aggressive behaviour, we ask our children to intervene when a peer is being abused, yet when an adult within the confines of school walls is assaulted or threatened by a student, police intervention is immediate. At the end of the day, the assaulted teacher will not be expected to spend time in the presence of his/her aggressor, yet we ask our children to do this on a daily basis. As adults, we have made our children responsible for self-policing, and while we are doing this, we have teachers suffering from work related stress for fear of being assaulted by a student. "40 percent feel unsafe interacting with students with a history of violence"....." and "in some schools a lot of teachers and staff say workplace violence negatively affects their mental health". Imagine that......however, I have yet to hear of a teacher attempting suicide as a result of post traumatic stress disorder because of long-term aggression from a peer. A student assaulting a teacher would be gone so fast, yet a child's reality is that they must endure the continued presence of their aggressors while they are trying to learn. The educational system put in place to teach our young clearly doesn't always provide the necessities of life for some of our children. Adults - are the reason bullying continues. Politics and bureaucracy within our educational system is the reason some of our children remain unsafe while at school and turn to taking their own lives because there is no light at the end of the tunnel. As a long-standing, grass-roots organization directly and only established to represent the voices of children and families since 2007 who have been victimized by bullying, “anti-bullying” advocacy is the sole purpose of my organization. I have no other mandate, responsibilities, conflicting agendas, budgets, or labour issues; child suicides are increasing, as are mental health and addiction issues. Great ideas may be in place – but they are not being translated into any meaningful committed action. Children are children. They learn their behaviour from the adults around them. Asking children to fix a problem they did not create, when they do not have the maturity or skills to fully comprehend the full affects of their actions, is unfair and unrealistic. When are we going to step up to the plate and acknowledge that we are not doing enough? The premiers of Canada are meeting at Niagara-on-the-Lake this month. Bullying is on the agenda. It will be interesting to see what they collectively come up with.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Genes play role in grade school bullying

"The episodes of bullying that mar early grade school years for hundreds of children may be a partial result of the victim's DNA, a new study suggested". So typical, BLAME THE VICTIM. We already know genes/DNA can play a role. As long as someone's traits aren't harmful to themselves or anyone else, children should be respected and allowed to be the individuals they are. There's no need for anymore studies on why kids/people are bullied. We already know the possibilities are limitless, including genes. No one deserves to be bullied/abused. The focus should be effective interventions to put an end to the bullying/harmful behaviour and minimizing the long-term effects. Continued efforts at addressing the root cause of negative behaviour by aggressive children is right up there on the list of things to do. I don't understand the purpose or intent of this study. This report did nothing more than provide our school boards with further ammunition to accuse a bullied child of being an evocative victim? Are we now supposed to have our children's DNA tested if they become a victim of bullying? Or, should we be blaming the parents of bullied children because they didn't "nip the issues in the bud at an early stage". Perhaps a public service announcement to mothers who are expecting twins suggesting that, along with normal blood work, they should have their twins' DNA tested. Perhaps this report should be provided to the parents of children who have taken their lives over this issue. So far the studies I have read deal with the victims of bullying, the latest being Dr. Vaillancourt’s research which suggests prolonged torment and abuse could severely affect a child’s development. Someone who experiences extreme stress over- produces cortisol is how I understand that report. Here is my suggestion. Gather 800 youth who have exhibited the extreme need for power and control over others. Power and control in the form of harassment, assault and stalking and take a look at what their DNA tells you. Those children, whose parents didn't "nip the issues in the bud at an early stage" who grow into adult abusers that further impact our social systems. They should not be left out of the DNA pool discovery. Seriously? This kind of report does nothing more than re-victimize a child and their family who have already experienced enough negativity.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

An open letter from the mother of a bullied child Published on Tuesday January 01, 2013 By Ellie Advice Columnist Q: Last year, a large group of girls (led by two) locked my daughter, then 11, and her friend in a portable. When I reported it, nothing was done. One year later, the group of bullies is larger and stronger in their sense of entitlement and power. Only one girl admitted what had happened and apologized to my daughter. The others lied, denied and were openly hostile in front of the principal. We’re getting our daughter counseling, and requesting a school change, but this group will find a new target. Here’s my open letter: “To the parents and teachers of the children bullying my daughter: “My daughter was a confident young girl who adjusted well to change. She knows right from wrong and has a kind, sensitive heart. So when the invitations to birthday parties, sleepovers and get-togethers stopped arriving several years ago, she was confused and wept. She wondered why others hated her. “When her once-large group of friends became smaller and smaller, she wept. When her calls weren’t returned, when whispers began, when former friends showed she wasn’t liked or welcome, she wept. Her heart and our hearts were broken. The confident little girl slowly slipped away from us. “Teachers and principals, I ask you to look around the schoolyards and halls. What do you see? It may be subtle; it often is. But to my child, it’s colossal. “When a parent brings this to your attention, do you see another helicopter parent, or do you see parents of a child broken by other children at your school? “Can you see the possibility that even the child/children whom you like could be willfully hurting another child? Can you see that verbal slings and arrows are just as bruising as physical wounds? “Parents, I know it cannot be easy to hear that your child’s hurting another. Please stop looking for ways to blame my daughter. Please stop justifying your child’s bullying. You’re contributing to the problem by giving more power to your child. “Your indignation allows your children to continue ignoring their role and responsibility. “I allowed my child to meet with yours to discuss her feelings, to let your child witness, without the usual group of supporters behind them, the hurt being caused by your child’s behaviour I hoped it would affect real change. “My hopes died. Instead of learning, growing and changing, your child, strengthened by your outrage, continues to malign and harass. “My attempt, and my daughter’s attempt, to make this a ‘teachable moment’ failed miserably. The abusive behaviour rages on, fuelled by your righteous anger. “How would you feel as the parent of the child being bullied? How would you endure the nightly tears and the daily urge to keep your child at home? “You feel you’re protecting your child by defending them. However, ‘being behind your child’ doesn’t always mean you should blindly justify their behaviour. Certainly not by enabling and condoning anti-social behaviour. “Instead, ask your child questions about their interactions with others. If your child used to be a friend of my child, why did they suddenly stop being her friend? Who are their friends now? Have you checked your child’s digital footprint? (Don’t assume that nothing is going on. Kik is the new favourite and is being used to target my child.) “Address the bullying. Use meaningful, natural and logical consequences in order to protect my child and others from harm. My daughter’s life and happiness depend on it.” A Concerned Parent A: May your heartfelt plea be heard! TIP OF THE DAY Bullying affects all children, so long as it’s ignored and allowed to persist. Email Ellie chats at noon Wednesdays at Follow @ellieadvice.