Friday, October 11, 2013

Education Minister Nancy Allan Proclaims Bill That Protects Students From Bullying
October 10, 2013


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Province Proclaims Bill 18, the Safe and Inclusive Schools Act
Manitoba schools now have more tools to fight bullying and cyberbullying and are able to create safer, more inclusive schools, said Education Minister Nancy Allan as she announced Bill 18, the Safe and Inclusive Schools Act, was officially proclaimed into law today.  The minister made the announcement while talking with students at Kelvin High School’s gay-straight alliance.
“Every parent knows the impact that bullying can have on their children and their ability to learn.  In recent years, the face of bullying has changed so much with the spread of cellphones and social media, and parents expect action,” said Allan.  “That’s why I am proud that we have a new law in Manitoba that builds on our Safe Schools Charter to protect every child from bullying online and in the classroom.”
Under Bill 18, schools in Manitoba will be required to:
  • report and act on cyberbullying incidents even if they take place outside of school or after-hours;
  • expand policies related to the appropriate use of the Internet in schools to include social media, text messaging and instant messaging;
  • accommodate students who want to establish and lead activities and organizations that fight all forms of bullying, and accommodate any student-led groups that want to use the name gay‑straight alliance or any other name consistent with the promotion of a positive school environment that is inclusive and accepting of all students; and
  • establish respect for human diversity policies that are consistent with the principles of the Manitoba Human Rights Code and create a safe and inclusive learning environment that is accepting of all students.
To support schools with developing diversity policies, the province will hold seminars with school administrators this fall.  The province is also partnering with the Egale Canada Human Rights Trust to develop resource kits for teachers and schools to assist and support students who want to form gay‑straight alliances in their schools.  The province will also provide training for teachers and other staff about bullying prevention and strategies for promoting respect for human diversity and a positive learning environment, the minister said.
In addition, the province is requesting that Appropriate Use of the Internet and Human Diversity policies be in place in all school divisions and funded independent schools by June 30, 2014.
Some school divisions have already developed policies that relate to respect for human diversity and homophobic bullying including the Winnipeg, Louis Riel and Seven Oaks school divisions.
“While great work is already going on in many Manitoba schools and school divisions, the proclamation of Bill 18 and the requirements it puts in place will strengthen and expand that work throughout the province.  This sends a clear message that all have the right to teach and learn in schools that are as inclusive and supportive as we can make them,” said Paul Olson, president, Manitoba Teachers’ Society.
“Bill 18 is part of an anti-bullying strategy that we launched a year ago.  Despite opposition from some politicians, we’re taking the next step forward to protect every child by giving students, parents, educators and administrators more of the tools that they need to deal with bullying,” said Allan.
Manitoba’s anti-bullying action plan includes:
  • expanding the Tell Them From Me online survey so that schools can hear directly from grade 4 to 12 students in 550 schools across Manitoba on how they can improve safety and prevent bullying;
  • introducing a new provincial code of conduct with clear and appropriate disciplinary consequences for bullying incidents;
  • providing new resources and supports to educate parents, teachers and students to help them identify, prevent and deal with bullying;
  • continuing to support Safe Schools Manitoba, a unique partnership between the provincial government, schools, law enforcement, social service agencies, parent councils, professional associations and community agencies; and
  • hosting the second annual Safe and Caring Schools Provincial Leadership Forum with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to bring together students, teachers, administrators and experts to share strategies on preventing and addressing cyberbullying.
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