Among the research recently presented to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) concerning bullying and prevention strategies sits one disheartening finding: nearly every teacher across the school board has witnessed a student being bullied.
The finding, presented to the board earlier this month as part of its Bullying Prevention and Intervention Review Panel, indicates that 97 per cent of teachers say they have witnessed bullying among students in their school.
Of that group, 71 per cent say they witness it frequently.
“It’s a distressing number — and it’s why we’re recommending that teachers are educated about bullying prevention and know how to intervene,” said Jean Clinton, a member of the review panel and a child psychiatry professor in McMaster University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences.
The panel is in the process of finalizing 10 recommendations to help the HWDSB prevent bullying in schools and give teachers the resources to help identify it. The panel, which released its draft recommendations earlier this month, was formed in the aftermath of the death of Devan Selvey, a 14-year-old student and victim of bullying from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School.
The panel has emphasized the need to equip schools with resources to best respond to bullying and to train teachers. In its presentation, the panel recommended “ongoing professional learning, setting targets and evaluating” and “seeking opportunities to embed social and emotional learning in classrooms.”
The board plans on bringing in PREVNet, a national research hub dedicated to bullying prevention, to work with schools and staff to help identify bullying and know how to approach it.
“What’s really important is that it’s not just teachers we think about, but the entire staff, from superintendents all the way to bus drivers and support staff,” said Clinton.
Through several student and parent surveys, the panel also found that students who identify as gender nonconforming and LGBTQ were particularly vulnerable to bullying, while schools had inconsistent processes and poor communication with respect to bullying interventions and responses.
Some of those surveyed described a “culture of fear” that normalizes bullying at their school.
At a community consultation meeting last week, some parents said their children had noticed teachers or supervisors who’d been present while a student was being bullied but didn’t intervene.
“What we’ve found is exactly what those parents mentioned,” said Clinton. “Not all events of bullying are recognized as such, and our hope is that with these new strategies staff will be better at identifying it.”
Selvey, who was fatally stabbed on Oct. 7, 2019, was subjected to intense bullying in the months leading up to his death, said his mother, Shari-Ann Selvey. She says the school and board did little to help him.
The review panel was announced on Nov. 12, 2019, shortly after the fatal stabbing. It has since worked to determine how the board should address bullying prevention, intervention, reporting and response methods.
Published at Mon, 14 Dec 2020 15:24:00 +0000