With the provincial Legislature recently passing a new education act, Foothills School Division (FSD) superintendent Stacey Meyers weighed in on some of the changes parents can expect in regards to bullying prevention.
Speaking before the Youth Justice Committee at Highwood high school on Monday night, Meyers assessed some of the new language in the bill aimed at bringing parents into the forefront of the fight against bullying.
By explicitly mentioning the role parents play, the new legislation establishes parents, alongside teachers and the school administration, as partners in thwarting bullying, Meyers said.
The role parents play in the process is evolving, as more and more students are getting bullied online, typically outside of school hours. Some recent cases, most notably the suicide of 14-year-old Amanda Todd after she endured countless years of online bullying, highlight the importance of reaching outside the school administration to defuse bullying in the community.
“It doesn’t have a timeframe,” said Meyers about bullying and the importance of parents getting involved to stomp out these instances whether they occur during or outside of school hours.
“It [needs to be] a group effort,” he added.
While explicitly mentioning the opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the thinking of the FSD, Meyers did alert the audience to a crucial problem that may handcuff school staff in dealing with cyber bully threats.
The students tend to be more knowledgeable about new technology than school staff.
“The kids are ahead of staff [in understanding and using] new technology,” said Meyers, mentioning the need for school administration to better understand cyber bullying.
Technological literacy notwithstanding, school administration will have more authority to rein in bullying thanks to the new firm language in the act, according to Meyers.
“The new act states that bullying is not acceptable,” he said noting this was always the approach but having it bolstered in the legislation gives credence to school staff fighting against bullying.
“[The new act] gives us some teeth,” he added.