Nova Scotia

Cyberbullying task force releases N.S. report

The Nova Scotia government should appoint an anti-bullying co-ordinator to help reduce bullying, a report on the issue released Thursday says.
Ally Thompson, who was bullied growing up, said the report is a good step forward. (CBC)

The provincial task force on cyberbullying has released its report with 85 recommendations for government, police and schools on what it thinks will make for safer schools.

Those who have been lobbying for change are guardedly optimistic government will follow through.

The report makes it clear, there's no simple solution.

"It's really to send a message in the legislation that parents have an important role here and all our studies parents are still the number one role model for their children," said Wayne MacKay, a law professor who chairs the task force.

MacKay's group is also calling on the province to create an outside agency to co-ordinate and oversee all anti-bullying efforts in the province.

He said that's because it's hard to tell what's available and how effective it is.

"Intuitive sense is good things are happening, but not enough, but I don't really have statistics to support that."

Other key recommendations include:

  • Requiring parents to monitor their children's online activity.
  • Requiring teachers to report bullying to principals.
  • Giving principals the authority to discipline students for acts done in or out of school.
  • Creating an anti-bullying coordinator to implement the report.
  • A pilot ban on cell phones in classrooms.

Vanda Dow the president of the Nova Scotia Home and School Association said she is worried the province will ignore some of the recommendations.

"There are lot that require funding and of course we've just gone through a budget cut to education, so I am a little concerned that those may get you know looked past or put off to a later time."

Grade 12 student Ally Taylor said she is satisfied the report itself is a step forward.

"I'm so happy that people are finally realizing that this is such an important thing and they're actually taking that step forward and putting it into action."

Taylor said she faced so much bullying in high school she thought about suicide.

"I wasn't pretty enough, I wasn't as skinny as everybody else, I dressed weird, I wasn't hanging with the right people."

Taylor was also quick to say one report alone won't end bullying.

Some major recommendations include passing a provincial bullying awareness and prevention act within this year, and exploring with the federal justice department whether cyberbullying might count as a crime.

The author of the report says there's no simple solution to this problem, but it makes sense to address it in schools.

Education Minister Ramona Jennex said her government is examining the recommendations but she is not committed to all 85.

"There are some recommendations that give me pause actually," Jennex said, though she wouldn't say exactly which recommendations.

"Necessarily banning things is not the best approach. Education is always the best approach."