Education Minister Jody Carr has released more details about new anti-bullying directives he plans to issue this spring, based on preliminary recommendations he’s received from a ministerial advisory committee.
Carr told CBC News on Tuesday there must to be consequences for repeat bullies, but removing students from school should be a last resort.
"If we start removing people at Grade 2, Grade 3, in middle school and high school, then what's society have in store for those people that we're already starting to segregate?" he said.
"So, it would have to be very extreme. We'd have to have guidelines in place to step up, provide intervention, and continually not give up on people."
Carr has promised to introduce changes to the Education Act this spring, but legislation is just one of the methods he will use to reduce bullying in New Brunswick schools.
He said he also wants to make sure successful anti-bullying programs are available across the province.
'When someone says, 'Are you doing everything that you can do?' I say, 'No, we're not.''—Education Minister Jody Carr
"I've listened to the stories, like many others, on the news. And it's heart-wrenching," he said.
"It is completely — turns your stomach around. And you can’t help but when you hear that get emotional and feel that more needs to be done. So when someone says, 'Are you doing everything that you can do?' I say, 'No, we're not.'"
Clear roles, responsibilities needed
There have been several stories of bullying in recent weeks across the province.
In Saint John, a boy is facing charges after lighting a girl's hair on fire.
A Fredericton teen has been pulled out of school by his parents after being subjected to months of harassment by another student.
And a Fredericton mother has come forward about how she hired a bodyguard three years ago to protect her daughter who was being bullied.
Carr said he feels the public expects the government to do more to address the problem.
He's still waiting for final recommendations from the ministerial committee, but it's working on a framework that would set out clear roles and responsibilities for everyone in the school system, including principals, school support workers, students and parents.
He wants to see school advisory committees get more involved and report back to the local district education councils, he said. Community organizations also have a role to play, said Carr.
Carr said the school system has come a long way in a few short years and that good things are happening, including 40 schools now offering Beyond the Hurt program. But even one bullying situation is too many, he said.