Clark launches an online bullying resource at downtown conference
By Sophie Isbister, Staff Writer
Prompted by the suicide of Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd a month ago, last Tuesday the British Columbia government held an anti-bullying conference in Vancouver. Expect Respect and A Safe Education (ERASE) Bullying is the project of Premier Christy Clark, who used the summit to unveil an online-based bullying resource aimed at teens and children in order to make it easier for them to report instances of bullying.
The web portal has been in the works by the provincial government since June, and is part of a larger campaign to actively reduce bullying in schools and bring issues to the attention of parents and administrators. The ERASE Bullying website brings awareness to the different definitions of bullying, including physical, verbal, social and emotional, and cyber-bullying. It also provides resources for parents as well as students, such as tools to help identify if your child is a bully.
In addition to providing resources, Clark’s project includes a reporting website, called Report Bullying BC. Bullied students can fill out a form on the website with relative anonymity and their report will be sent to a safe-schools coordinator in their school district, the addition of which is also part of the comprehensive ERASE Bullying initiative.
Included in the conference were Education Minister Don McRae, Clark, a number of anti-bullying experts, and over 130 students from BC who participated by sharing their experiences with and views on bullying.
In a release published on the BC government’s website, Clark stated “The summit brought together a wide range of participants who were in agreement: stopping bullying requires a culture change in our schools, homes, and communities. Community agencies, parents, educators, and students all need to play a role.”
Clark also opened up the summit to citizens on the web via Twitter, inviting people to join the conversation by using the hash-tag #ERASEbullying to send questions to the premier and other conference attendees. By opening the discussion on Twitter, Clark also opened the project up to public debate and scrutiny. The main criticism of the event is that in the 10-pronged plan includes no specific mention of the bullying faced by LGBTQ youth.
Another controversy surrounding the summit was the exclusion of Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd, who had hoped to attend the summit as a listener or speaker. McRae told reporters in a released transcript from a teleconference that anti-bullying experts led him to believe that including Todd would have the potential to upset some of the student attendees, due to the fresh nature of Amanda Todd’s death. At present, BC government officials are working to control this issue and planning to meet with Todd to discuss the summit.
The ERASE Bullying summit was summed up in a tweet by Clark, quoting presenter, anti-bullying expert, and author Barbara Coloroso: “We must do 3 things: 1. Pay attention 2. Get involved 3. Never, ever look away.”
The ERASE Bullying website is at erasebullying.ca and the tool to report bullying can be found at reportbullyingbc.ca