After reading an article entitled “School boards aim to stop bullying” in the Era Banner last week, I once again find myself shaking my head. I’ve been doing that a lot lately when it comes to the government’s “strategies” on dealing with our students and their education. The province of Ontario has announced that they are taking the “next step” in the Accepting Schools Act action plan. Exactly what do they plan on doing? Try not to laugh as I quote directly from the article that they plan to… are you ready for this?… “establish a new expert panel.” LOL
What happened to the “old” expert panel? Did they suggest spending money? Did they suggest that the government stop sweeping the issue under the rug? Did they suggest that implementing anti-concussion legislation was nowhere near as important as the bullying issue? Were they asked gently to step down or were they all terminated? Are they starting a “new” expert panel with hopes of finding different “expert” opinions that better suit the government’s interests? Awesome job guys! Just what we need to help our students deal with bullying in a positive way. I’m sure that another brainstorming session around a big mahogany table behind locked doors is definitely the proactive way to go. Way to avoid the front lines yet again.
With suicide being the second leading cause of death among teens, don’t you think its time to get that conversation started – in the schools – and not the board room? Isn’t it time that you stop worrying about liability and the possibility that a student may take his own life after attending an assembly that deals with the tough issues like bullying, acceptance and teen suicide? Stop implementing the fluffy assemblies and student presentations in which someone comes into the classroom never really making that connection with the students.
This ongoing issue of bullying affects students on so many levels. It’s up to us – the parents, the educators, the school system, and the MINISTRY OF EDUCATION to give our students their voice. Unfortunately, all the garbage trickles down. It’s a progressive climb up until it reaches the provincial level and then its all for naught. Until the government starts being part of the solution rather than the problem, the issue of bullying will become increasingly problematic. If the system continues to cut our kids loose and look the other way, all the money, effort and time spent accomplishes nothing.
It’s time to put an end to the “band-aid” solutions and get to the “heart” of the matter. The heart of the students. Get them sharing. Get them talking. Encourage their vulnerability by making those connections. Give them courage to speak. Allow them to be angry. Give them that shoulder to cry on. It’s time to peel back the metaphorical onion and get to the core of the issue. It all stems from the hearts and minds of our students. These kids are our future leaders. Each and every student is important despite their sexual orientation, culture, unique needs, behaviour, ability or financial status.
So, when it comes time to form your “new expert panel”, be sure to remember that the education system should teach students first, and academics should be secondary.
Image Source: Jmcardle