MONTREAL, JANUARY 16, 2015- Creating a safe learning environment is one of the priorities of every elementary and high school at the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).
One priority towards that goal is the prevention of bullying within the hallways, the classroom and the school yard. Each school has their own action and safety plans to ensure a safe school environment, which conforms to the guidelines laid out by Bill 56, which was passed by the Quebec National Assembly in June 2012. Basically, Bill 56 brought about changes in the Education Act that requires schools to address the issue of violence and bullying, and the steps that must be taken by students, staff, school administrators, governing boards and school boards towards the prevention of bullying and violence.
Here is a look at what some schools are doing:
- Nesbitt Elementary School in Rosemount and Edward Murphy Elementary School in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve are participating in “United Without Violence,” a program that is being done in conjunction with the Service de police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM), which helps to raise awareness amongst students of the different types of violence, and sensitize them to the effects of victimization. “The program also encourages students to speak out and stand up when they are faced with bullying or violence, provide them with the tools and skills to respond to it, as well as give them a sense of belonging and encourage them to promote positive behaviour,” said Bob Plunkett, Nesbitt’s Special Education Technician, who has been running the United Without Violence program with its Grade 6 students for the second year in a row. Students also attend a series of workshops that tackle a wide variety of topics such as how to be positive role models, refusing to tolerate bullying and how to speak out, how to intervene to prevent a bullying incident, and different forms of violence. The students then get a chance to practice in the hallways of their school what they have learned, in which they are issued special t-shirts that promote the idea of keeping a violence-free school, and help out staff in looking out for any acts of violence or bullying, or are asked to help out or intervene in bullying prevention.
- Gerald McShane Elementary School in Montreal North, in conjunction with Kino Quebec’s Safe Play program, has become the first of any English school in Quebec to participate in the “Ma Cour” program. Basically, they will be contributing to bullying prevention and school safety through the rebuilding and beautification of the school’s large school yard. “Children these days don’t know how to play in a structured manner,” said Principal Nancy Richer. “And if there is no structured play in a school yard, it can lead to frustration and create conflict amongst children. With structured play, children will learn to play safe, will have a calming effect on them, and that way, they can learn more in the classroom.” The project was initiated by school social worker Daniela Passucci, and is scheduled to break ground in June 2015 and should be completed by September. Gerald McShane also offers a social skills club, cooperation and play workshops, as well as a workshop to prepare adolescents on how to handle certain social situations.
- Last November, Royal West Academy in Montreal West held its second annual Artists Against Bullying art exhibit. The four-day exhibit featured works of art by the students in the grades 8 to 11 Visual Art classes that addressed the issue of bullying.
- As part of its Respect Week program last November 14 to 21, Roslyn Elementary School in Westmount held a joint event with the Tyndale St. Georges Community Centre. Former Montreal Canadiens enforcer Chris “Knuckles” Nilan delivered a talk as part of his “No More Bullies” lecture tour across North America, in which he speaks out against bullying. Other activities that took place at Roslyn during Respect Week included a performance of the play “Face It” by the Theatre Paminou troupe, specially designed bullying workshops that were conducted by Roslyn teachers and the CCS, physical education workshops conducted by Right to Play, a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to the Rights of the Child, and a closing assembly that featured Respect Week’s theme song “Tu as trouve un ami.”
- Willingdon Elementary School in NDG officially introduced a proactive anti-bullying program called “Dovetail: The Toolbox Project” to its entire student population, after a successful pilot run last year with six of its classrooms. It’s a social skills program that is being incorporated into Willingdon’s classrooms, schoolyard and after school programs, and helps build skills such as empathy and patience, as well as provide students with the necessary tools to guide them through different conflict situations. All staff members were trained on how to run the program. The object of the program is to ensure the students will grow up to be understanding and accepting human beings, who are confident in their abilities and will be able to face challenges in the future.
- Rosemount High School is a participating member of “Stop A Bully” (www.stopabully.ca), a Canada-wide anti-bullying program that was developed in 2009 by a teacher in B.C. Offered to schools free of charge, Stop A Bully is a safe and anonymous reporting service that helps increase bullying awareness and accountability within a school, and allows school staff and administrators to be more proactive when it comes to preventing serious bullying incidents. It also provides schools with important information in order to become more proactive in assisting all students who are involved in a school bullying incident, whether they are a witness, target or perpetrator.
- Merton Elementary School in Côte St. Luc, in conjunction with the Service de police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM), distributed to the parents of its students from grades 2-6 a series of four bilingual web videos called “CLIPS Intimidation-Parents.” These informational videos deal with what bullying is, as well as how to discuss and deal with a child about bullying, whether they are a witness, victim or aggressor. The videos are available at www.spvm.qc.ca/intimidation (French) or www.spvm.qc.ca/bullying (English).
- Gardenview Elementary School in St. Laurent has developed an action plan to prevent violence and bullying in the school. It includes a year-long citizenship program in which all students will learn about and be sensitized towards the following values: respect, tolerance, fairness and kindness; this will be taught to the students through special lessons plans developed by the teachers and a special school project. As well, the school will also hold special social skills programs, parent workshops and guest speakers dealing with anti-bullying. And the issue of cyber-bullying will be discussed in the Cycle III Science and Technology curriculum.
- Edinburgh Elementary School in Montreal West has put together a detailed anti-bullying plan and protocol, which outlines how to prevent bullying, as well as how to report and investigate any bullying incidents in the school. Other anti-bullying measures that are outlined in Edinburgh’s plan include setting up an anti-bullying/anti-violence team with a coordinator to research different anti-bullying programs that can be used in the classrooms; small social skills group sessions that will be conducted by the School Behaviour Technician during lunch hour, and will be based on the school’s current needs; placing a “Peace Box” in every Kindergarten through Grade 2 classroom, for students to report a bullying incident or discuss a bullying-related issue that is affecting them; and a “Gotcha! Points” reward system for students who are caught by staff doing any act of kindness, in which such rewards include free homework passes, free dress passes, movie tickets or gift certificates from certain restaurants.
Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213