The Nova Scotia government has released a plan including 40 actions against bullying and cyberbullying on a day known across Canada as Pink Shirt Day, devoted to an anti-bullying message.
Ramona Jennex, the provincial Minister of Education, said the plan will be implemented over three years and includes training staff to recognize mental health issues, hosting an annual conference and requiring schools to report disruptive behaviour so officials can examine at the causes.
Jennex said material on responsible cellphone use will also be distributed to customers entering a new cellphone contract.
"What we need more than anything is a change in our culture, a change in our society," she told students and officials gathered at Dartmouth High School.
Last year, a provincial task force on cyberbullying released a report with 85 recommendations for government, police and schools on what it thinks will make for safer schools.
The recommendations included creating an outside agency to co-ordinate and oversee all anti-bullying efforts in the province, passing a provincial bullying awareness and prevention act and exploring with the federal Department of Justice whether cyberbullying might count as a crime.
Wayne MacKay, the author of the report, said last week the provincial government isn't acting quickly enough to implement key recommendations and has spent too much time collecting data rather than focusing on finding anti-bullying programs that can be used in schools.
Jennex, however, said her department has been working diligently on a strategy.
She said the government has already appointed an anti-bullying co-ordinator and spent $138,000 on an anti-bullying public awareness campaign.
Pink Shirt Day is an anti-bullying campaign that was started by David Shepherd and Travis Price, two students at Central Kings Rural High School in the Annapolis Valley who rallied to support a Grade 9 student who had been tormented for wearing a pink T-shirt to class.
The day is now celebrated across Canada on the last Wednesday in February.