||Volume 22, Number 7, May/June 2010
Bullying won’t stop anytime soon
By Deb Taylor
The following letter was sent to CKNW regarding the Christy Clark show.
April 14, 2010, was declared Pink Shirt Day. In the days leading up to April 14, Christy Clark promoted this year’s antibullying campaign in her current role as a talk-show host for CKNW. This is the woman, who when she was the Campbell Liberal government’s education minister, relentlessly insulted and criticized public school educators.
Although I’m pleased that efforts to prevent bullying have achieved this level of media support, I’m disheartened by the approach that Christy Clark took in order to shed light upon this issue.
Unfortunately, most of her shows during this campaign dealt with examples of bullying where, as she often put it, “…the school did nothing.”
It makes me think that perhaps Clark’s prime motivation for “championing antibullying” is to give herself another platform from which to continue bashing public school teachers and administrators.
I say this because if Christy Clark and CKNW really wanted to make a difference that would bring an end to bullying in our schools, they would have also spent time exploring the challenges schools and parents face in addressing this complex issue. They would have highlighted programs that are working and given recognition to those in our public schools that are making a difference. Clark would have also spent time delving into the impact that multiple years of underfunding to our public schools and to the Ministry for Children and Families continues to have upon children’s safety in this province.
If schools are to deal with bullying effectively, they need teachers, counsellors, and administrators who are trained and available to meet with students as issues arise.
Instead, Pink Shirt Day this year should have been named—Pink Slip Day. As once again, Gordon Campbell made hollow promises on the steps of the Legislature by proclaiming that “Bullying Stops Here” while continuing to underfund public education.
In the next two weeks, school boards around the province are having to make painful decisions around where to make cuts to the very services that help keep students safe.
When these cuts take place and elementary counsellors lose their jobs due to funding shortfalls and the counsellors that remain see their caseloads go from one counsellor for 900 students to one for 1,800 students, when secondary counsellors and administrators are required to spend more time teaching, and when the teaching assistants responsible for aiding students with severe behavioral challenges lose their hours and in some cases their jobs…who’s going to be there when a student or group of students needs a hand at working through a conflict? Who’s going to teach the antibullying, conflict resolution, or restorative justice classes, who’s going to train and supervise school mediators or Playground Pals, and who’s going to offer small group social skills training for students whose disability is dealing with social situations? Who’s going to make sure our playgrounds, cafeterias, and hallways are safe when noon-hour supervisors numbers and hours are cut?
The scary reality is that Christy Clark may well have even more upsetting stories to tell by Pink Shirt (alias Pink Slip Day) 2011. I sincerely hope I’m wrong. I also hope that when Pink Shirt Day comes around next year, Christy Clark can get over whatever personal unresolved issues she has with our public schools and spend her time promoting positive solutions to this issue.
Deb Taylor has spent over 35 years as a teacher and a counsellor of students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.