Warner says early intervention is also critical but not happening enough, and must start by taking bullying incidents seriously and acknowledging the potential harm to victims.
Staff training on the skills to investigate incidents will be a necessary component, he adds.
“It has to be properly investigated to understand not just what happened immediately at that point, but you’ve got to trace it back” to root causes, Warner says.
He says his son was physically bullied while attending a Hamilton Catholic middle school, for instance, and after a successful intervention by the principal found the perpetrator was being bullied by his father, the bullying stopped.
Other strategies include ensuring parents are informed when their child is bullied — lack of communication is a recurring complaint — and reporting incidents even when they don’t result in discipline, to give the sense of a school’s climate.
Warner says students’ ability to self-regulate their behaviour should also be tracked, much as with progress in subjects like math and English.
“We’re still in the early days (of the review), so I’m not yet sure where and how you do it, but you have to be able to track behaviour over a number of years so you can anticipate behavioural problems and you can deal with that,” he says.
“Early intervention is also a great opportunity to begin to explore, to talk about how should we behave toward each other.”
The province is providing funding for the panel review and Warner says it must lead to solutions, not just for the Hamilton public board, but all boards grappling with bullying.
“It’s actually to me quite devastating the extend of the harm that I’m hearing reported. It’s so serious I think it would be impossible not to act,” he says. “To let this continue, to brush it off, I think would cause such a disaster.”
Published at Wed, 18 Mar 2020 14:42:00 +0000