College issues guidelines to help teachers tackle bullying

The Ontario College of Teachers is rolling out new guidelines aimed at putting a stop to bullying in the province's schools.

8-page booklet includes advice on cyberbullying

Joe Jamieson of the Ontario College of Teachers, centre, speaks during Friday's roundtable in Ottawa. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The Ontario College of Teachers is rolling out new guidelines aimed at putting a stop to bullying in the province's schools.

The college, which oversees 238,000 teachers across the province, said it put together the new "professional advisory" after receiving requests for guidance on how to deal with the issue.

"We know [teachers] are concerned about student safety and well-being," said Joe Jamieson, a deputy registrar for the college who oversaw a roundtable on bullying in Ottawa Friday morning.

"What we've offered is another tool in their toolkit … on how to be present, how to intervene, how to detect and how to reduce the amount of bullying happening in school environments."

The guidelines take particular aim at cyberbullying.

"Bullying has been around since the beginning of time. It has definitely changed in its scope," said Const. Krista Mallon, a school resource officer with Ottawa police.

"Now with social media, the devices and the different ways kids and adults have to use that as a means to bully has made it a lot more difficult [to stop] in many respects."

Students want trust, positivity

The college also cites a 2015 study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health that showed 24 per cent of the Grade 7 to 12 students surveyed reported being bullied at school.

Thirteen per cent of students admitted to bullying somebody else.

The eight-page booklet has been sent to every a member of the college. It includes advice on how to recognize bullying and how to stop it, reminding teachers of their legal and ethical responsibility to do so.

"[Bullied students] worry more and focus less," Jamieson said during Friday's roundtable.

Students said more positive school environments can help prevent bullying, and more trusting relationships between students and teachers can give students who are bullied the confidence to come forward for help.

"[I want to create] a school environment that promotes friendliness, caring, understanding, proper conversational tactics so we don't have arguments breaking out, as well as teaching math and science and all that," said Marshall Wilson, a student trustee at the Upper Canada District School Board.

Nic Edge, a student trustee with the Renfrew County District School Board, said adults have to set a good example. He said he's been bullied online by adults after he sat on a committee that renamed the Arnprior District High School's sports teams.

The college's roundtable was in Toronto Thursday. It moves on to North Bay Oct. 24, Thunder Bay Oct. 26, Peterborough Oct. 30 and Windsor Nov. 1.
Nic Edge, left, speaks during an anti-bullying roundtable in Ottawa on Oct. 6 while fellow student trustee Marshall Wilson listens. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

With files from Gilles Taillon