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All MPPs appear to be trying to put a halt to bullying of children

TORONTO - The province is hoping to put a halt to bullying, and MPPs on both sides of the legislature are working to bring in new measures to ensure that happens.

The government has announced it is strengthening its partnership with Kids Help Phone to ensure bullied children and youth have the support they need to grow and reach their full potential.

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) offers confidential 24-hour counselling services by phone and online, and will continue for another three years. It is part of the government’s commitment to make children and youth feel safe and accepted, whether at school, at home or in the community.

Meanwhile, Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer has introduced sweeping legislation to confront the bullying problem in schools, and she was supported by Wellington Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott. Witmer is a former Minister of Education.

“Mrs. Witmer deserves enormous credit for the leadership she has shown on this issue,” Arnott said.

Witmer’s bill, the Anti Bullying Act, 2011, is intended to strengthen the rules around reporting and investigating bullying incidents, ensure greater accountability, make certain education and publicity efforts are effective, and support remedial programs that work. That bill was presented in the Ontario Legislature on Nov. 30.

Witmer has long been an advocate for stronger measures to overcome bullying in Ontario’s school system.

“She is offering to set aside the politics of the issue, and work together with the government in a spirit of cooperation,” Arnott added. “I hope the government is prepared to respond in kind. This issue is too important to be turned into a political football.”

Soon after that, the province introduced the Accepting Schools Act, which, if passed, will require all school boards to take preventative measures against bullying, issue tougher consequences for bullying, and support students who want to promote understanding and respect for all.

Supporting the Kids Help Phone and introducing legislation are parts of a comprehensive action plan to make our schools safer, more accepting places to learn. The plan also calls for:

- bringing mental health support workers into schools as part of Ontario’s 10-year mental health and addictions strategy;

- the creation of an Accepting Schools expert panel to provide advice about resources that focus on a whole school approach, including prevention and early intervention;

- direction to Ontario’s curriculum council to report back next year on integrating equity and bullying prevention across the curriculum; and

- a public awareness campaign that will stress that all Ontarians have a role in preventing and ending bullying.

Creating safer, more accepting schools is part of the government plan to support student success while securing a brighter future for all Ontarians.

“We have told our students who have been victims of bullying that it gets better, but the action we are taking will ensure it starts getting better now, said Minister of Education Laurel Broten.

“We have the moral obligation to take action for our children and this plan will ensure they have every opportunity to thrive and succeed. “

President of Kids Help Phone Sharon Wood said, “We hear from kids every day who are desperate to make bullying stop and who feel there is nowhere to turn to. Fostering hope for these kids is what the Kids Help Phone professional counsellors do every day. With governments, agencies and community members working together - it will get better.”

 

 

January 13, 2012

 
 

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